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Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers Point Spread - Pick

Cleveland Browns (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Monday Night Football, October 7, 2017 at 8:15PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CLE +3.5/SF -3.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5

The Cleveland Browns come to Levi's Stadium to face the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in week five action. The Niners have to be feeling pretty good about themselves, starting off at 3-0 and getting last week off as recipients of an early bye-week in week four. After winning twice on the road to start the season, the Niners beat the Steelers at home in their last game and are nice and dug in at home, ready to do damage. The Browns will be playing in their second MNF game in three weeks. After beating the Jets the first time around, they look for another one this week. On Sunday, the Browns really shined, evening their record at 2-2 when as touchdown-underdogs, they marched into Baltimore and won, 40-25. Can they start establishing a foothold? Or is a road-game against an unbeaten Frisco squad going to once again reveal their weaknesses?

One can look at the Niners a few different ways. With a better situation on the health front, we are starting to see the rising squad some suspected we would see last season. We see a defense packed with high draft picks starting to click, having given up 20 or less points in all three of their games. And on offense, there is new hope. Jimmy Garoppolo hasn't been great, but is commandeering this offense well, with the run-game making a lot of progress. With Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, and Jeff Wilson, there is a lot of different artillery for the Niners to wield on opposing defenses and it's come off well. But let's also point out that the three wins came against Tampa, Cincinnati, and a depleted Steelers team. Now facing a hungry Cleveland team on the rise, we should get a better idea of where the Niners truly stand in the big picture.

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So far on offense, the Niners have been relying on the run-game. We see a versatile approach, with Breida, Mostert, and Wilson providing a lot of havoc through three games. Breida is averaging nearly 6 yards a carry, with Mostert at 5.5 YPC. Mostert in particular is also a threat to break loose a big aerial play, as he has already done this season. Through the air, they look for a bit more after not really lighting it on fire through three games of play. And they have a lot of weapons in that regard, with star tight end George Kittle leading the way, with receivers Marquise Goodwin and rookie Deebo Samuel showing their wares. Maybe they can get Dante Pettis established, as he has found it hard getting into a groove since being drafted high in the first round before last season.

The Frisco defense has been stingy through three games, doing very well against the run and the pass. They are tough up-front, with Nick Bosa adding some pass-rushing fire to go along with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead. They should be getting Dee Ford back for this, which will only help increase the heat they can bring to opposing quarterbacks. Linebacker Kwon Alexander has added some more fire to the middle, which is becoming an area of greater strength. With Richard Sherman, Jaquiski Tartt, Tavarius Moore, and others, they are starting to put together a secondary that will be a real threat, even in spots like this where they are going to be facing some really difficult-to-cover ball catchers.

The Browns are facing a difficult stretch, with this being their second straight road-game and third in four weeks. And they've been tough, as this one figures to be. But last week was a potential turning point in their season, as they beat what had been looking like a good Ravens team in conclusive fashion. There were good signs on both sides of the ball and it's the kind of win where a team can start building momentum. Both the offense and defense made the big plays that were anticipated when this team was constructed. They look for more this week in what would be another defining win upon which to build.

Baker Mayfield was tremendous on Sunday and they didn't even need Odell Beckham, who was pretty quiet with two catches for 20 yards. Running mate Jarvis Landry was giant on the day with 8 grabs for 167 yards with Ricky Seals-Jones adding 82 yards and a TD grab. They have a lot of different ways they can get you aerially. But on the ground is where they made a ton of noise, with Nick Chubb rampaging for 165 yards and three touchdowns. Reserve back Dontrelle Hilliard even added a touchdown. We're starting to see the prolific and varied offense that some expected to see. And having all this happen against Baltimore's defense at their place adds even more credence to it.

Some pieces are starting to fall into place for the Cleveland "D." They can really rush the heck out of the passer. Even with sack-monster Myles Garrett not getting to the QB on Sunday, they still had a lot of pressure on Lamar Jackson, with Joe Schobert and Olivier Vernon among those who had sacks. They also got turnovers, an area where we're seeing better results lately, with three more of them on Sunday. Safety Jermaine Whitehead had a pick, as did reserve defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence. And like the offense, we see a lot of different people stepping up on this side of the ball.

This is a tough game and there is something to be said about one team being rested and dug in at home, while the other team was slugging it out on the road and is back on the road this week. San Francisco would seem to have a freshness edge. But it being still early in the season and the Browns being energized from their success, it might not be a bankable component of this game. I actually see the Browns as being more-tested this season, which could make them more of a threat in a game that should be competitive. In addition, they will be pining to nose above the .500 mark to start putting together that postseason run. I'm going with the Browns in this one.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cleveland Browns minus 3.5 points. Bet the Sunday Night Football game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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