The Las Vegas Raiders and Cleveland Browns had their Week 15 game moved from Saturday to Monday due to an unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, and the Browns were decimated by the virus. A total of 20 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, including starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, wide receiver Jarvis Landry, tight end Austin Hooper, backup quarterback Case Keenum, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and more. Even head coach Kevin Stefanski tested positive for the coronavirus.
The NFL adjusted their COVID-19 protocols to allow some vaccinated individuals to return more quickly by “testing out” of quarantine. Still, Mayfield and Keenum were unable to do so, so it will be Nick Mullens at quarterback. There are certain thresholds to be met when it comes to testing out, but being asymptomatic for at least 24 hours is important. The Browns have until 2 p.m. ET to activate players.
Gambling on a game potentially missing key players is obviously tricky, but it can be done. There may be some spots where we can find value. Below, we will break down this matchup from a gambling perspective and examine the line movement, Over/Under and player props to consider. First, here’s how you can watch the matchup.
All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
How to watch
This line has seen plenty of movement. It reopened at Browns -5.5 last Tuesday, rose to Browns -6.5 on Sunday, fell to Browns -6 on Tuesday and then finally flipped to Raiders -1 by Wednesday due to multiple positive tests. From there it began to rise in favor of Vegas, as it climbed to Raiders -4 on Thursday. Once the protocols were updated, the line flipped back to the Browns being favorites at Browns -3. However, once it was discovered the Browns wouldn’t be getting important players back such as their top two quarterbacks, sportsbooks took it off the board and then reopened it at Raiders -3.
The pick: Raiders -3. Both teams are 5-8 ATS this season, but Cleveland is 2-5 ATS at home. With Cleveland not having Mayfield or Keenum, it’s hard not to lean towards Derek Carr and Co. The Raiders may have their own problems with consistency, but this could be a gift for Vegas as it looks to remain relevant in the postseason hunt.
This total reopened at 44 two Tuesdays ago, but fell from there. It fell at a steady pace, and even got as low as 37 this past Thursday. With the change in protocols, the total bumped back up to 41, but settled at 40.5 when it reopened Monday afternoon.
The pick: Under 40.5. With Mullens making his first start of the season and Stefanski likely out as well, I wouldn’t expect the Browns to light up the scoreboard. The total isn’t something I’m excited to play, but the lean is to the Under.
Derek Carr passing yards: Over 241.5 (-115). The Raiders hate running the ball. They are tied for having the second-worst run offense in the league with an average of 84.6 rushing yards recorded per game. Carr is fourth in the NFL in passing yards although you never know what you are going to get week in, week out. He exploded for 373 yards against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving, but threw for just 215 yards the week prior against the Cincinnati Bengals. However, Carr is averaging 302 passing yards per game and has crossed this line in each of the last three contests.
Donovan Peoples-Jones receiving yards: Over 36.5 (-115). This feels like a bit of a flier with Mullens starting under center, but Landry is still on the reserve/COVID-19 list and the Browns are going to have to throw the ball. He caught five passes for 90 yards last week.
Daniel Carlson made field goals: Over 1.5 (+120). Carlson is averaging 2.15 field goals made per game, and had made at least two per game in three straight weeks before last week’s blowout loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The game script I imagine has the Raiders getting stopped in the red zone a couple of times.