One of the most interesting active streaks in the NFL is at risk of ending at the start of the 2022 season. The Cleveland Browns are somehow winless in 17 consecutive season-opening games. They'll have a chance to end that run of futility on Sunday, Sept. 11, however, as the Browns have opened as 4.5-point favorites at what is expected to be a mediocre Carolina Panthers team. Both sides are still trying to determine who will be starting under center that day.
In Week 1 of the 2004 season, the Browns were 20-3 home winners over the Baltimore Ravens behind 180 passing yards, a touchdown pass, and a scoring run from Jeff Garcia. That remains Cleveland's only 1-0 start since returning to the NFL in 1999 Not every result has been a loss, however - they tied the Steelers in 2018. Last year, the Browns were 5.5-point underdogs Week 1 at Kansas City and covered in a 33-29 loss to improve to 5-12 ATS in that 17-game winless streak.
The Browns are on their ninth head coach since that 2004 opening victory, and what feels like their millionth different starting quarterbacks. Cleveland will again have a new face at QB in Week 1, but it almost surely will not be the newly-acquired Deshaun Watson. It would be a colossal upset if he's not suspended at least six games by Commissioner Roger Goodell for all of his off-field issues.
It would be an even bigger upset if it's Baker Mayfield, who has burned every possible bridge in returning to the team since the Watson trade. One team that has been linked to the former No. 1 overall pick in a trade? Carolina. The Panthers were also in on Watson. Presumably, it will be Jacoby Brissett throwing the ball for Cleveland. The veteran journeyman was signed to a one-year deal in March to serve as a placeholder while Watson is suspended. Brissett is 14-23 SU as a starter in the league.
Carolina and Cleveland were speaking about a Mayfield trade during the 2022 NFL Draft, but negotiations fell apart and the Panthers wound up taking Matt Corral in Round 3. They're likely out of the Mayfield market barring an injury… or if the Browns waive the former Heisman Award-winner. Mega-bust Sam Darnold, taken two spots after Mayfield at the top of the 2018 draft, should be the Week 1 guy.
The second-longest active winless streak in Week 1 belongs to Indianapolis at eight in a row. That should end as the Colts and new starting quarterback Matt Ryan are -7.5 at Houston.
The NFL Kickoff Game is a potential Super Bowl 57 preview as the Bills visit the defending Super Bowl champion Rams, who are -1. Buffalo signed former Rams linebacker Von Miller this offseason to a big free-agent deal.
The Monday night game in Week 1 is a doozy. The Broncos will be visiting the Seahawks as Denver QB Russell Wilson returns to Seattle, likely to a robustly warm welcome. The Broncos are -3.5.
Caesars Sportsbook NFL Week 1 odds
- Thursday: Bills at Rams (-1, 52.5)
- Ravens at Jets (+4, 45.5)
- Saints at Falcons (+3, 42.5)
- Patriots at Dolphins (-3, 44.5)
- Browns at Panthers (+4.5, 43.5)
- Steelers at Bengals (-6.5, 44.5)
- 49ers at Bears (+6.5, 42)
- Eagles at Lions (+4, 47)
- Colts at Texans (+7.5, 46)
- Jaguars at Commanders (-4.5, 42)
- Chiefs at Cardinals (+3, 56)
- Raiders at Chargers (-4, 49.5)
- Giants at Titans (-6.5, 44)
- Packers at Vikings (pick'em, 46.5)
- Sunday night: Bucs at Cowboys (+3, 52)
- Monday: Broncos at Seahawks (+3.5, 41)
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