The Cleveland Browns stepped out of character last week to engage in a high-scoring shootout with the Indianapolis Colts, while the Seattle Seahawks are coming off a couple of uncharacteristic defensive slugfests. With the two teams squaring off this week, who will get back to basics and play their brand of football, who will have a big day and who will struggle? Let’s take a look at some Browns Vs. Seahawks player props, centering around the quarterbacks, Geno Smith and P.J. Walker.
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After some results that don’t necessarily line up with level of play, there’s plenty of value on the board when it comes to these quarterbacks, and game flow will give us a chance to fade a dynamic offensive talent, let’s dig right in.
Geno Smith Over 0.5 Interceptions (-105)
The Geno Smith comeback story is incredible one, and the former New York Jet has deservingly received plenty of praise for the resilience and determination it took to get back into a starting job and raise the bar higher than it ever was to start his career. But there’s a troubling trend simmering under the surface. Last season, Smith had 29 turnover-worthy plays, tied with perennial leader Josh Allen for the highest total in the NFL.
This season, he’s got it under control a bit as he’s only recorded nine such passes in six starts. But that’s still enough for 10th-most in the league, and everyone with more has already played their seventh game. His turnover worthy play rate of 4.0% is very close to last year’s 4.2%, so it seems that he’s just throwing the ball a bit less. Smith has thrown just four interceptions this season, so he’s been pretty lucky in that regard, and luck only lasts for so long.
Against the Browns, it might not matter whether or not Smith attempts a high volume of throws, he might just get picked off regardless. This is probably the league’s best pass defense; even after a relative banner day from Gardner Minshew, they’re still leading the league in EPA and success rate despite playing the third-toughest schedule so far, and they’re second in DVOA, which is opponent-adjusted.
The Browns have only picked off three passes this season, but that is due in large part to the fact that opponents have run against them the fifth-most of any team in the league. With an essentially average run play percentage despite playing from ahead most of the time, the Seahawks should be putting the ball in the air for much of what should be a very competitive game.
Smith might have a tough time against the defensive front that boasts the highest adjusted sack rate in the league, and the fourth-highest pressure rate. Five of his turnover worthy plays have come when pressured, and none of his big time throws have been on such snaps. He’s had a nice start to the year, but the situation is right for him to throw a few errant balls against Cleveland, at least one of which should be picked off.
P.J. Walker Longest Pass Under 33.5 Yards (-110)
Even in the shootout against the Colts, Walker completed just 15 of his 32 pass attempts, for a grand total of 178 yards. He’s at the helm of the league’s worst pass offense by both EPA and DVOA, as the unit has struggled all year long whether he or Deshaun Watson is at the helm.
They’re going up a very interesting Seahawks pass defense, which ranks 20th in success rate, but 11th in EPA. That’s a direct product of giving up easy, short receptions, but limiting big plays, and Walker will surely be willing to play into their hand at raucous Lumen Field.
Walker’s big-time throw rate of 2.8% is 26th out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks, placing him beneath the likes of Kenny Pickett and Mac Jones. He completed one long ball to Amari Cooper against the 49ers on a broken coverage, but other than that throw, he did not complete a pass longer than 20 yards in that game.
Walker did not surpass this number against the Colts, about an average unit by pass defense EPA and DVOA. He’s going to have an even tougher time doing so against a Seahawks team that gets pressure at a slightly above-average rate despite blitzing at the 27th-highest rate in the league, and will pit PFF’s eleventh-favorite coverage secondary against the rating source’s least-favorite pass catching group.
Kareem Hunt Under 46.5 Rushing Yards (-115)
This is a pretty wild number. Hunt has accumulated rushing yards in the four games since his return to Cleveland, averaging 3.2 yards per carry.
The Browns offensive line has disappointed, as they currently rank 28th in adjusted line yards, so they haven’t given their backs too much of a chance, but Hunt hasn’t helped his own cause too much.
He’ll be running at a really strong rush defense, which ranks tops in the league in success rate, fourth in DVOA and eighth in EPA. The Browns are going to be in a tough spot offensively, given their general air game ineptitude, but they’ll have to throw the ball against a less-elite pass defense. If they want to get Hunt involved, they can absolutely utilize him on swings and screens even if the traditional run game isn’t working, and I’d expect the creative Kevin Stefanski to do just that.
Getting Hunt into the open field with the football could be a massive key to success for the Browns in this game, and it’s hard to imagine them achieving that with a ground and pound offense in Seattle. Look for him to be involved, but as a pass catcher rather than a rusher.