Major NFL news broke early this Wednesday morning when the Cleveland Browns announced that starting quarterback Deshaun Watson, who lead a huge comeback win in Baltimore on Sunday, will miss the rest of the season as he needs surgery on a broken bone in his throwing shoulder. With PJ Walker set to start Sunday's big AFC North home game vs. Pittsburgh, the spread has generally dropped from Browns -4 to -2 and the total from 36.5 to 34.5. The SportsLine Projection Model has severely downgraded the Browns for the season.
Watson reportedly suffered a displaced fracture in his right glenoid in his shoulder in the first quarter Sunday in Baltimore yet played through it. He led a comeback from a 31-17 defecit in the fourth quarter for the 33-31 victory. The Ravens (7-3) would have been in full command of the division with a victory but are now tied in the loss column with second-place Cleveland and Pittsburgh (both 6-3). Watson threw for 213 yards with a touchdown and a pick and rushed for 37 yards.
Statistically, he has not been great in his first full season as the Cleveland starter with a 61.4% completion rate, 1,115 yards, seven TDs and four picks in six games for a rating of 84.3. But the team is 5-1 in games he's played, including one early last month in Indianapolis in which he was forced out early.
Walker, the former XFL star, takes over under center with rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson presumably serving as his No. 2, although it now seems likely a veteran will be added. Walker is 5-4 in his career as a starter and 1-1 this year with Cleveland. The Browns upset visiting San Francisco 19-17 in Week 6 with Walker under center, but the win was in spite of him as he threw two picks. The defense won that game. He also started Week 8 in Seattle, a 24-20 loss, and had two more picks.
In Week 7 at the Colts, Watson technically started but left in the first quarter injured. Walker helped captain a 39-38 win, but, again, did not have good numbers. Walker was 15-of-32 for 178 yards and a pick. Overall, Walker is completing just 49% of his passes for 618 yards, one TD and five picks this season for a rating of 51.3 that is by far last in the league. Update: In a surprise, Thompson-Robinson will start; that hasn't really changed any numbers.
The sportsbooks are still recalculating some Browns futures odds with this news, but we have seen them move from +235 to win the AFC North to +500 and from +2500 to win the Super Bowl to +4500. Cleveland is one of four active franchises to never play in a Super Bowl.
The SportsLine Projection Model has downgraded the Browns from 10.7 wins to 9.9 and their odds of making the playoffs from 85.2% to 63.5%. Before this news, the model also gave the AFC North an 8.8% shot of making history by having all four teams make the playoffs, but that's down to 7.0%. It still has Cleveland with the second-most wins in the division thanks to the team's stellar defense.
|w/ Watson Healthy||10.7||62.90%||32.20%||85.20%||9.40%||3.90%|
|Watson out for Season||9.9||58.20%||15.30%||63.50%||3.50%||1.10%|
|All Four Make Playoff 8.8%|| || || |
|All Four Make Playoff 7.0%|
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