The Cleveland Browns face off against the Houston Texans this Sunday (12/24/23) at 1:00pm EST in Houston, TX as a home game for the Texans. Get Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the Browns -2.5 as they look to maintain their AFC wildcard lead.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Prediction & Best Bet
It may not be pretty, but the Cleveland Browns just keep winning. This time it was in the form of a comeback, thwarting the Chicago Bears 20-17. Joe Flacco had a roller coaster of a game, throwing for 374 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions. Last week’s win was massive for their playoff hopes as it kept the Browns one game above all other wild card teams and increased their chances of making it to 90%.
The Texans also come into this game in the thick of the wild card race, entering Sunday in a four-way tie for the last two wildcard spots and one game behind the Browns. They can seriously shake up the playoff picture with a win, yet they may have to do so without star rookie quarterback CJ Stroud. Stroud is still currently in concussion protocol as of writing, being downgraded to doubtful heading into Sunday’s contest. Without Stroud, the Texans will once again turn towards backup Case Keenum.
Injuries have been the story for the Texans as of late and will be the main reason they stumble in this one. The downgrade to Keenum will not provide enough firepower to crack the Browns defense, most likely folding under pressure against the Browns dominant front four. Even after a slight regression the past few weeks, the Browns defense still ranks first in Def Pass DVOA, Def Pass Success Rate, and Def Pass EPA. This is in large part of their front line, a unit that ranks fourth in Def Adjusted Sack Rate and fifth in Pressure Rate.
Worse yet for the Texans, their coverage metrics have been falling off a cliff and are now more prone than ever to get shredded by Flacco. The Texans secondary ranks 23rd in Def Pass DVOA, 20th in Def Pass EPA, and 21st in Def Pass Success Rate. Granted Flacco is still as inconsistent as ever, but he is still a capable downfield passer and more than capable of slinging it against this weak unit. With Flacco stretching out the second level, expect the Browns ground game to bounce back as well and sustain drives down the field.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Prediction & Best Bet: Browns -2.5
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Betting Odds
With the status of CJ Stroud looming large, oddsmakers opened the contest by pegging the Browns as a -4 favorite. That number has since come crashing down to -2, now ticking back up to -2.5 with Stroud most likely being doubtful to give it a go. With the Browns finding a downfield passer, as well as still fielding an elite defense, they are worth a play at -3 or better.
As for the total, oddsmakers believed points would be scored at a slow pace as they opened the number at 41. Bettors believe points will come at a slightly slower rate, backing the under down to 40 as of writing. This is heavily predicated on the Texans ability to move the ball down the field, needing a backup quarterback to be able to thwart an elite pass coverage unit.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Key Injuries
Plenty of skill position players can be found on the injury report for both teams as Joe Flacco, Jerome Ford, CJ Stroud, Noah Brown, and Nico Collins are all listed as questionable.
Cleveland Browns vs. Houston Texans Key Matchups
Can the Browns front seven shut down the Texans ground game?
Devin Singletary Vs. Browns Front Seven
The Texans ground game was largely heralded as one of the worst units on offense in the entire league for the better part of the season. That was until the Texans promoted Devin Singletary to the starting position, putting Dameon Pierce on the back burner and found immediate success.
Devin Singletary vs Tennessee Titans :
26 car 121 yards
4 rec 49 yards
Offensive MVP once again for the Texans last Sunday pic.twitter.com/0MctKrIcBq
— CJ Anderson SzN 💫 (@AyooTexanNation) December 19, 2023
The issue this time around is that Singletary does not get the benefit of Stroud’s passing ability which stretches out opposing defenses, as well as taking on an elite run stuffing unit. The Browns front seven ranks second in Def Rush DVOA, sixth in Def Rush Success Rate, and ninth in Def Rush EPA. With Keenum under center, expect plenty of stacked boxes which will clog Singletary’s running lanes.