The Cleveland Browns were a laughable prediction to win the AFC North back in February. The Baltimore Ravens were standing in the Super Bowl afterglow and it was the other three teams not located in Cleveland that traded division titles anyhow. That whole sentiment changed this offseason.
(The first number is from Aug. 23; the second in parenthesis from roughly three months ago.)
Super Bowl Odds: 150-to-1 (125-to-1)
Division Title Odds: +600 (+2500)
Season Win Total Line: 6 (6)
Late-May Snapshot: “The Browns are receiving 125-to-1 Super Bowl odds from Vegas according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, tied for fourth-worst in the league and sitting well behind the New York Jets at 100-to-1 — only ahead of the Oakland Raiders, Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars,” I wrote earlier this offseason.
Well the Browns have come rip-roaring back in the eyes the bookmakers, ascending from 25-to-1 division title odds to a 6-to-1 proposition. The preseason has probably been kind to that changed perception, with the public having seen Joe Flacco and his receives appear out of sync while Brandon Weeden is suddenly flourishing under Rob Chudzinski.
Again, the major disclaimer that comes with making big statements about the preseason “Warning: You are about to change or perception of a team based on exhibition.” You have offenses carving up vanilla defenses and defenses stifling uncreative offenses, and discerning how much either of these two factors play into any given game quite the inconclusive task.
It is still hard to imagine this squad stinking again with the talent at nearly every position and a juggernaut coaching staff of Chudzinski, offensive coordinator Norv Turner and defensive coordinator Ray Horton. They filled personnel needs in free agency and made a savvy 3-4 switch. Whether to jump on Browns odds before they raise any higher comes down to whether you believe in Weeden’s progression in preseason action.