Monday night in Pittsburgh went about as poorly as possible for the Cleveland Browns. They lost their 20th straight regular season game there despite holding the Steelers to a single offensive touchdown and also lost four-time Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb to a devastating season-ending knee injury. The SportsLine Projection Model has downgraded Cleveland's playoff chances by nearly 20% but the various sportsbooks have not followed suit. The Browns are 3-4 without Chubb all-time.
Monday night marked the second straight week a major player was knocked out for the season on Monday Night Football. In Week 1, Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending torn Achilles tendon. Chubb was hurt in the second quarter in Pittsburgh following a 5-yard run to the Steelers' 3-yard line after Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick crashed into his left knee while making a tackle. It was immediately clear the injury was bad -- ABC would not show replays -- and players from both teams gathered around Chubb as he was loaded on the cart.
Chubb had reconstructive surgery on that same left knee after tearing his MCL, PCL and LCL while at Georgia in 2015 but still ended up having a terrific career with the Bulldogs and was a 2018 second-round pick by the Browns.
In the NFL, Chubb had rushed for more than 1,000 yards in four straight seasons, including a career-high 1,525 yards last year. His career yards per carry of 5.3 is behind only Bo Jackson and Jamaal Charles in NFL history among running backs with at least 500 rushes.
Chubb also was one of just five players in league history with at least eight rushing touchdowns in each of his first five seasons, alongside Adrian Peterson, LaDainian Tomlinson, Emmitt Smith and former Browns great Jim Brown. Chubb's 370 missed tackles since 2018 and his 25% tackle avoidance percentage both lead the league in that span.
Cleveland could look at bringing back free agent running back Kareem Hunt, who had served as a compliment to Chubb the past four seasons. Leonard Fournette is also a free agent. Jonathan Taylor and Cam Akers are available on the trade market, so there are options.
Jerome Ford will take over as the featured back for now and surely will be the No. 1 pickup in Fantasy Football this week on waivers if available. Ford rushed for 106 yards on 16 carries vs. Pittsburgh and caught a TD pass from Deshaun Watson.
The SportsLine Projection Model has downgraded the Browns from 8.8 wins to 7.7 and their chances of reaching the playoffs from 43.1% to 24.8%, which equates to about +300 on the moneyline. Yet at DraftKings, the Browns are still -145 to reach the postseason (were -230 entering Week 2) with No at +115. They are now +330 to win the AFC North (Baltimore got a bit of a boost and is now the +100 favorite), +1200 to win the AFC and +2200 to win Super Bowl 58, up from +1800.
Individually, Chubb was among the favorites to win his first NFL rushing crown and rushing TD title but is now off the board. San Francisco's Christian McCaffrey is the +160 yardage favorite and the Titans' Derrick Henry is +700 to lead in TDs. The Browns' Ford is now +4000 on the yardage prop and +5000 on the TDs.
Cleveland fell to 1-23 under Kevin Stefanski in games it trailed by at least four points in the fourth quarter with Monday's loss. Since his first season in 2020, that's the second-worst win percentage (.042) in such games across the NFL. Only the Panthers (0-31) have been worse. The Browns opened as 3.5-point home favorites for Week 3 vs. against Henry and Tennessee.
|w/ Nick Chubb||8.8||51.80%||15.20%||43.10%||2.30%||0.90%|
|w/o Nick Chubb||7.7||45.30%||5.50%||24.80%||0.70%||0.20%|
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