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Nick Camino commentary: The 2021 Cleveland Browns ‘Schedule Game’


3News’ Nick Camino takes an in-depth look at every matchup Week 1-18 with odds, betting lines, professional analysis and, of course, his own predictions.

CLEVELAND — One week ago, the NFL released the entire regular season schedule for the 2021 season, which kicks off for real Thursday, Sept. 9, when Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers host the Dallas Cowboys.

Here in Cleveland, an annual tradition commenced — “The Schedule Game.” For those unfamiliar with this “game,” it’s basically an opportunity for fans, sports talk show hosts and, yes, local TV sports anchors to give their predictions on the upcoming NFL season for the Browns.

What else are we supposed to do in the middle of May?

RELATED: 5 observations about the Browns’ 2021 schedule

RELATED: Browns fans react on social media after full 2021 schedule is released

I wanted to play the schedule game, give analysis and predictions while also providing betting lines from the Westgate Las Vegas Race & Sports SuperBook for all 17 Browns games. Yes, these lines are for real and the public can wager on these games while sitting inside the SuperBook in “Sin City” or on their mobile app.

I reached out to Jeff Sherman, the Vice President of Risk Management at the Westgate, and he connected me to Ed Salmons, who is the lead NFL oddsmaker at the Westgate SuperBook. Salmons provided me with incredible insight on lookahead future betting lines and how they were created, as well as answering my questions on specific match ups that include the Browns.

According to Salmons, four oddsmakers at the Westgate SuperBook got together and released sides and totals on every NFL game for the regular season. Currently. bettors can place up to $2,000 on a side (team) and up to $500 on a total (total number of points in the game).

Under each capsule, you will see quotes from Salmons in italics which offer insight into how oddsmakers view the specific match up. So without further ado, let’s play the Cleveland Browns Schedule Game!

Game: Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

Where: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium

When: Sun., Sept. 12 at 4:25 pm ET

Lookahead line: Chiefs -6.5

Camino’s pick: Absolutely hate the Browns having to open up against the Chiefs at Arrowhead in Week 1. The 2021 NFL season may very well be the Chiefs revenge tour after a lackluster performance in the Super Bowl against the Buccaneers and the Browns draw a healthy Patrick Mahomes and a hungry Chiefs squad at home right out of the gate. It doesn’t get tougher than this to open a season. The Browns should keep it close, but Mahomes and Co. pull away late. Chiefs win 37-24

Salmons: “Just from watching the Playoff game last year, the Browns really should have won that game. I thought they should have. I was impressed with the Browns that game. There is so much talent on the Browns. Defense, offense, their run game is as good as any in the NFL. Obviously to beat the Chiefs, you need to hold the ball against them, you have to slow them down somehow. The Browns have that ability with their run game. There is no reason to think the Browns won’t have a good showing in this game and it could definitely be a field goal in either direction.”

Game: Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Sept. 19 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -13.5

Camino’s pick: The perfect type of rebound game for the Browns after the tough opener in Kansas City. Baker Mayfield and the Browns should thrive in this spot for their home opener against a Texans team full of way too much turmoil and uncertainty. Will Deshaun Watson even be playing quarterback for Houston by Week 2? Browns win 31-12

Salmons: “Let’s just say Deshaun Watson plays and they beat Jacksonville in Week 1, you’re probably looking at a line of around Cleveland -7. There would definitely be an adjustment here. We are going into this game thinking that Watson is not going to play. Not 100 percent, but probably 80-to-90-percent.”

Game: Chicago Bears vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Sept. 26 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -7

Camino’s pick: Some people forget this Chicago Bears team went to the NFL Playoffs last season and it feels like the only thing holding them back from more success was quarterback play. Whether it’s Andy Dalton or Justin Fields under center in this Week 3 match up, both feel like upgrades over Mitch Trubisky at this point. That being said, the Browns are still a better overall football team and they are playing at home. A touchdown favorite seems high, but the Browns do just enough to win an ugly one at FirstEnergy Stadium. Browns win 20-19

Game: Cleveland Browns at Minnesota Vikings

When: Sun., Oct. 3 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -1.5

Camino’s pick: Kevin Stefanski heads back to Minneapolis to face the team he was the offensive coordinator for in 2019 in a game that truly feels like a coin flip. Give me Baker Mayfield over Kirk Cousins any day, but defensively this will be the best team the Browns face until this point in the season and having to play this game on the road adds another layer of difficulty. The Vikings do just enough to hold off Cleveland’s fourth quarter comeback attempt. Vikings win 27-21

Game: Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers

When: Sun., Oct. 10 at 4:05 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -1.5

Camino’s pick: Going out West is never easy, but the Browns are a better overall football team than the Chargers, who will still be breaking in a new head coach and some new systems on both sides of the ball. Justin Herbert was impressive in his rookie season last year but there are too many question marks surrounding this Los Angeles team. Experience pays off in a tight game on the road, the Browns finally have it. Browns win 33-20

Game: Arizona Cardinals vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Oct. 17 at 4:05 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -4.5

Camino’s pick: The 4:05 pm kick-off time won’t be as much of a body clock adjustment for the Cardinals but this feels like a great spot for Cleveland to open up a nice winning streak. The colder the weather, the better for this showdown. Browns defensive coordinator Joe Woods should have something dialed up to contain Kyler Murray, while Baker Mayfield gets the best of another former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback. Browns win 23-10

Salmons on West Coast teams traveling East: “If you take a good West Coast team like the Rams or the 49ers, it used to be adjusted more when those teams were not as good as they are. Seattle is another [West Coast team], Seattle keeps going to the East Coast and winning all the time. I would say if those teams are not as good, [the line] will be inflated even more.” 

Game: Denver Broncos vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Thur., Oct 21 at 8:20 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -7

Camino’s pick: Finally the Denver Broncos have to travel to Cleveland and unfortunately for Vic Fangio’s team, the Browns will just be finding their stride. Will Fangio even be the head coach by Week 7? On paper this game favors the Browns in every facet of the game outside of special teams, specifically kicker with Brandon McManus. The good news: this won’t be coming down to a field goal in the fourth quarter. Browns win 34-17

Game: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Oct. 31 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -4.5

Camino’s pick: The Steelers will certainly have revenge on their minds after the Browns eliminated Pittsburgh from the NFL Playoffs last season, but the Big Ben era is nearing its end and Cleveland is ready for more payback of their own from the last 17 years. No, this won’t be another blowout. In fact, this game will be scarily close on Halloween afternoon. Browns win 24-23

Game: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

Where: Paul Brown Stadium

When: Sun., Nov. 7 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -4.5

Camino’s pick: The Browns and Bengals played two close games last season and while Cleveland ended up winning both match ups, the showdown at Paul Brown Stadium truly could have gone either way with the Browns winning late. Joe Burrow has some new offensive weapons and another year under his belt to help pick up a tight home signature win that will drive Browns fans a little crazy, ending a four game winning streak before a trip to New England. Bengals win 27-24

Game: Cleveland Browns at New England Patriots

When: Sun., Nov. 14 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -2

Camino’s pick: Pretty remarkable that even a lookahead line could favor the Cleveland Browns over the Patriots in Foxborough, but it’s the perfect indicator of the direction these two franchises are trending. Yes, I think New England will be better than last season, their first year without Tom Brady behind center. However, this will be a motivated Browns team that isn’t overwhelmed going against Bill Belichick and a different-looking Patriots team. Browns fans will have fun with this one. Browns win 26-18

Game: Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Nov. 21 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -10

Camino’s pick: Covering a double-digit spread in the NFL is not an easy thing to do, the Browns should have no problem though against the Lions who may have already thrown in the towel for UNC quarterback Sam Howell at this point. An easy win for Cleveland before a highly anticipated showdown with the Baltimore Ravens a few days after Thanksgiving. Browns win 40-16

Game: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

When: Sun., Nov. 28 at 8:20 pm ET

Lookahead line: Ravens -3.5

Camino’s pick: Outside of the Week 1 showdown with the Chiefs at Arrowhead it does not get more difficult than this in the regular season for the Browns. By the time Nov. 28 rolls around, the Browns could be a touchdown underdog in this AFC North showdown. Yes, the Browns will have payback on their mind from last year’s wild primetime match up in Cleveland, but they don’t get the W in this highly anticipated game as Lamar Jackson puts on a show in front of the hometown fans. Two weeks from now? Different story. Ravens win the first one, 27-23

Camino’s take: Browns hit the Bye Week at 8-4 on the season. The perfect opportunity to get geared up for the final stretch and what Cleveland fans hope is a deep run ending at the Super Bowl.

Game: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sun., Dec. 12 at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -2.5

Camino’s pick: Payback will be a wonderful thing for the Browns in this second match up and a lot of oddsmakers view this as a “scheduling spot.” After the Browns face the Ravens in Week 12, they get their Bye Week, while Baltimore has to play Pittsburgh. This showdown sets up nicely for the Browns not only coming off the bye, but also being back in Cleveland and with a game against the Ravens less than two weeks prior to this game. Browns win 31-20

Salmons: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this. I’ve seen teams play two times in three weeks, but I’ve never seen a team play a team, have a bye and then play that same team again. Great schedule spot [for Cleveland]. We always give the Ravens their respect because they’ve earned it through the years, but if you’re going to draw up a spot to play Baltimore, you couldn’t draw up a better spot here for Cleveland.”

Game: Las Vegas Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Sat/Sun., Dec. 18/19 at TBD

Lookahead line: Browns -6.5

Camino’s pick: The thing I remember most from last year’s match up was the bad weather in Cleveland and the Browns throwing the ball too much in that weather instead of running it with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in a 16-6 loss to the Raiders. This time around, the Browns get more payback dismantling Jon Gruden’s squad. Browns win 30-10

Salmons: “Last year it felt like the Browns literally had four straight games with the worst weather in Cleveland in late November, early December. It was always 30 MPH winds in that stadium, raining and snowing. Every week, it was unbelievable. The Browns are equipped to play in that kind of weather with [how they are built] and I think that’s a big advantage. Some teams can’t play in weather like that. I think that’s a big advantage to the Browns as the weather turns [worse] as get towards the weather time and with 18 games this season, it’s going to be stretched out where you’re going to have to play in bad weather.”

Game: Cleveland Browns at Green Bay Packers

When: Sat., Dec. 25 at 4:30 pm ET

Lookahead line: Packers – Browns pick ’em

Camino’s pick: Obviously whether Aaron Rodgers is playing quarterback for the Packers in this Christmas Day match up on the frozen tundra will effect everything…the betting line, the result…everything. I suppose we’ll say the drama has cooled off by then with A-Rod and the Pack, so if that’s the case, Santa Claus rewards the hometown fans with a game-winning Rodgers-led drive for the win late. Packers win a close one, 29-27

Game: Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers

When: Mon., Jan. 3 at 8:15 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns – Steelers pick ‘em

Camino’s pick: Another “toss-up” in the eyes of oddsmakers early on. I had the Browns winning the Week 8 match up in Cleveland 24-23 and this game will be no different. Tight, physical and loaded with playoff implications. It’s difficult to beat a team twice and on his way out, Big Ben finds away to drive Cleveland fans crazy one final time. Steelers win 24-22

Game: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Where: FirstEnergy Stadium

When: Jan., 9, at 1:00 pm ET

Lookahead line: Browns -6.5

Camino’s pick: Simple formula to this pick for me. The Browns absolutely may need this game. The Bengals will only be playing for pride…and, I have Joe Burrow and Co. pulling off the upset in the first match up in Week 9. For those reasons, I’ll go with a Browns blowout to get back into the NFL Playoffs with an 11-6 overall record in the new 17-game season. Browns win 37-10.

Final analysis: First of all, I want to thank Ed Salmons and Jeff Sherman from the Westgate Las Vegas Race & Sports SuperBook. Their insight, extra work and analysis allowed me to play this “Browns Schedule Game” in a way that I have never seen done. To have the betting lines available months before the season is pretty remarkable and I commend them.

Salmons’ overall take on the Browns when it comes to their perception in Vegas: “As far as Super Bowl betting there’s always certain teams that the public will get behind. The Ravens of late, and the Steelers, those two teams in the AFC North. This year is the least bets I’ve ever seen for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl. There’s been a dramatic drop-off and it’s been replaced by the Browns. It’s like the two [teams] have switched. The Browns are getting a ton of love.”

As for the Browns final record, I have them finishing 11-6 and making it back to the NFL Playoffs. Die-hards will criticize me for not having them go 17-0 and negative “Cleveland Fan” will say I’m a shill and a “fan boy.” You can never win that battle.

I hope you enjoyed my “Browns Schedule Game,” a yearly tradition in Cleveland that’s now more fun than ever before.


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