When the Browns host the Texans in Cleveland this Sunday, they will do so as 12.5 point favorites. That might not sound crazy, given Houston’s low number of screenings for the 2021 season, and even though the Texans managed a surprising Jaguars rout in Week 1. But it’s a historic mark nonetheless. As ESPN’s Field Yates notes, if the 12.5-point line holds until kick-off, that will be the largest amount the Browns have been favored since the team resumed operations in 1999.
The last two plus decades of Browns football have been for the most part disappointing, of course, so it’s not like Cleveland has had too many opportunities to feature in games as clear favorites. The team only made the playoffs once from 1999 to 2019, earning their first place in the 21st century playoffs with a 9-7 in 2002, while also posting a loss record in 19 of their 20s. other seasons during this period. But that’s what brings us to the current Browns regime, which kicked off in 2020 and is responsible for this historic rise in product-respect on the Cleveland court.
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How, exactly, did we get to this point, with the Browns favored by nearly two touchdowns against Houston?
Part of the reasoning has to do with the Texans, who remain the favorites to claim a top pick in the 2022 draft while throwing a slew of free agent flyers under a seemingly reserved coach and amid the ongoing controversy over Deshaun Watson. But most of the reasoning has to do with the Browns themselves.
Since 2020, when former Vikings offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski became the club’s ninth head coach in 13 years, Cleveland has gone 6-2 at home, where he will host Sunday’s game. He also has one of the most balanced rosters in the NFL, with top talent on both sides of the ball, from top 15 quarterback Baker Mayfield and star backer Nick Chubb to All-Pro pass carrier Myles. Garrett. They have also eclipsed 30 points six times since Stefanski took the sidelines, and in Week 1 they were one step away from knocking down the defending AFC Champion Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Browns’ 12.5-point advantage in Week 2 is the biggest of all games, matched only by the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, who enter their clash with the Falcons as favorites. at 12.5 points.