With both teams sitting on the fringes of their respective conference’s playoff picture, the Cleveland Browns are heading West to take on the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday (12/3/23) for what will surely be an interesting clash of styles. Get Browns vs. Rams odds, picks and predictions below. Our best bet is Browns +3.5.
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction
A few weeks ago, this game would have been no-contest. Depending on how far back you look, either Matthew Stafford or Cooper Kupp would have been dealing with an injury, while the Browns were absolutely rolling. Now, with Deshaun Watson out, Cleveland has suffered a brutal loss in Denver, on the heels of a six-game stretch in which they won five. That included huge triumphs over the 49ers, Ravens and Steelers.
Conversely, the Rams have started to turn things around with a pair of divisional wins, a blowout of the Cardinals with Kyler Murray, and a closer but more meaningful win against the Seahawks. The Rams are now just a half game out of the seventh seed in a weak NFC. With much of their previously Super Bowl-winning core now intact, you’d have to imagine that folks in LA are feeling pretty good about their chances of at least sneaking into the playoff field.
This line is an incredibly tough one. Given the state of both squads, the natural instinct is to invest in the Rams, especially at home. But the line of 3.5 makes it tough to ignore the Browns, given the half-point hook in their direction. It’s also worth noting how well this matchup lines up for Cleveland on both sides of the ball.
Their rushing offense can exploit the Rams’ greatest defensive weakness, while on the other side of the ball, they have the ability to bring more pressure than anyone else in the league. Cleveland ranks ninth in blitz rate, but first in pressure rate. This is enormous against LA, considering the fact that PFF grades Stafford as the league’s sixth-best passer when kept clean, but 16th under pressure.
The Rams could very well win this one. But with the Cleveland defense on the other side, it’s incredibly challenging to imagine them truly pulling away. This is also one of the most interesting coaching matchups you’ll see this season, with a former Coach of the Year winner on each sideline. Cleveland’s Kevin Stefanski will match wits with Super Bowl Champion Sean McVay. With two top-notch football minds squaring off, it’s bound to be a tight and interesting contest, which shouldn’t be decided by more than a few point. That would favor the underdog Browns.
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Rams Prediction: Browns +3.5
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Rams Best Odds
The Rams are favored by 3.5 at home, while their odds on the moneyline are set at -175. The Browns are listed as +145 underdogs, and both sides of the point total of 40 are -110 to hit.
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Rams Key Injuries
Seemingly for the first time, the Rams are more or less entirely healthy with just safety Quentin Lake listed as questionable. The Browns are of course still missing Deshaun Watson, but stars like Myles Garrett and Amari Cooper are also listed as questionable.
Cleveland Browns vs. Los Angeles Rams Key Matchups
The Browns defend both the pass and run at a very high level. But with Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford both healthy and ready to go, you’d have to expect the Rams to try their luck through the air.
Conversely, the Rams defend the pass much better than the run, while the Browns prefer to keep their offense on the ground, so expect that matchup to be a huge part of this game.
Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense vs. Cleveland Browns Air Defense
Stafford’s stat line reflects a bit of bad luck, according to PFF; they consider him to have recorded 21 big time throws and just seven turnover worthy ones thus far. But his touchdown to interception rate is a very mediocre 13 to nine. As he always seems to be, Stafford has spend much of this year fighting through injuries. But he’s coming off of a really nice performance against Arizona. Tutu Atwell led the team in receiving that day, but the duo of former Offensive Player of the Year Cooper Kupp and rising star Puka Nacua provides Stafford with some great options most weeks.
The Cleveland air defense is the league’s second-best by DVOA, and it starts with that pass rush. Myles Garrett is making a push for the league lead and his first Defensive Player of the Year award with 13 sacks thus far. He leads all players in PFF’s pass rush grade. Meanwhile, PFF considers the secondary to be a good bit less elite, but they’ve been solid, due in part to some improvement in year three by Grant Delpit.
CLEVELAND Browns Ground Game vs. Los Angeles Rams Run Defense
With Dorian Thompson-Robinson in concussion protocol, and 38-year-old Joe Flacco set as Cleveland’s next option, they’re probably going to want to run the football. They’ve been decent running the ball, although not as strong as they may have been had Nick Chubb never been injured. The rushing attack based around Jerome Ford has still graded better than the passing game, even as the offensive line has slumped a bit.
Luckily for them, the ground defense is a weakness for LA, ranking 23rd in DVOA. Even Aaron Donald has graded as just about an average run defender, as he gets into his 30s and time finally begins to run out on his reign of terror. This might be the most pivotal matchup in this game; if the Rams can’t stop the run, the Browns will hang around, and it’s not hard to envision that exact scenario playing out.