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Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns Point Spread - Pick

Indianapolis Colts (3-1 SU, 3-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 11, 2020 at 4:25PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: IND -2.5/CLE +2.5
Over/Under Total: 47.5

The Indianapolis Colts take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in week five AFC action from FirstEnergy Stadium. Both teams have seen similar trajectories this season, losing their first game of the season, before rebounding with three straight wins, as each squad enters this battle at 3-1. Both teams have some wind in their sails. On Sunday, Cleveland scored a rollicking 49-38 win over the Dallas Cowboys on the road, running for over 300 yards on the ground in a robust offensive display. The Colts, meanwhile, got to the winner's circle in a different way, manufacturing a nice 19-11 road-win against the previously-unbeaten Bears.

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A bad loss to the Jaguars in week one portended problems for the Colts, however, three straight wins have them looking good. After an inauspicious debut, Philip Rivers has steadied the ship. After a two-pick game to start the season, he has thrown just once since. Against the Bears and their still-tough defense, the Colts were hard-pressed to move the ball, but they made the most of what they have, relied on a blossoming defense, and steered their way to the winner's circle in an out-of-conference road game against an undefeated team. Not too shabby.

Rivers has some nice tools with which to work. The one thing he's been missing for a long time that he now has is a good offensive line. Against the tough Chicago pass-rush, he took only one sack on the day. While bottled up at times on Sunday, the Colts' run-game has gotten a boost from rookie Jonathan Taylor, with Nyheim Hines adding clout, as Marlon Mack is out of action. They're a little thin in the receiver category with TY Hilton not putting up numbers like he used to, along with Zach Pascal and other pretty anonymous role-guys in light of injuries to the receiving corps. Their biggest damage lately is coming out of the tight end position, with Trey Burton and Jack Doyle making plays, as emerging Mo Alie-Cox is also delivering.

While the attention is on what the Colts can do with more-functional play coming from the quarterback position, it is their defense which has been largely responsible for this latest surge. In the last three games, they have allowed 29 combined points. Granted, the Vikings, Jets, and Bears aren't the most electric offensive trio in the league, but the point has been made nonetheless. Justin Houston is getting after the quarterback well, while TJ Carrie and Xavier Rhodes both have two picks already. They've been really stout, while flashing a major playmaking flair. We'll get a better idea this week if this "D" is for real, as they've been great in all areas the last three weeks.

Cleveland may have broken. After an arduous road to respectability, they're starting to see the fruits of their labor pay off. A futile week one loss to Baltimore was troubling, but subsequent wins over the Bengals, Washington, and the Cowboys have them trending in the right direction. Just as Indy has had less-than-fearsome opposition in the last three weeks, the same can be said for the Browns. Beating the Cowboys on the road in an explosive display was impressive, but let's face it, the Cowboys have really been exploitable at times this season. Against a competent Indy team, this Cleveland team should face a real test from a fellow conference up-and-comer.

On Sunday, Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield was competent in commandeering this offense to a win. His two TDs were a big part of the win, as was a Jarvis Landry pass to Odell Beckham for a TD. Beckham had three TDs on the day. But the run-game was the real star of the game. With Duke Johnson's 95 yards, Beckham breaking two runs for 73 yards, Kareem Hunt's 71 yards and two scores, and Nick Chubb's 43 yards, the production was steady and from multiple sources. It had the askew Dallas defense grasping for answers. They should find the going a little tougher this week. They might be without Nick Chubb who hurt his knee, but with 117 points in their last three games, the offense is really humming nicely heading into week five.

In winning their last three, the offense has been carrying the weight for the Browns, while the defense is laboring in allowing an average of 31.5 points per game. They are getting absolutely hammered in the secondary, which granted, is at least partially due to some opponents playing from way behind the last few weeks. But make no mistake, they're going to need Denzel Ward, Terrance Mitchell, Andrew Sendejo, Karl Joseph, and others to step up. And having a banged-up defensive line isn't going to help the whole equation, with their inside line banged up with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi hurt against Dallas. Against offenses that aren't even that great, they've been getting exploited. You wonder if it might cost them at some point and taking on a more-complete Indy team could be that spot.

I don't question whether Cleveland has turned the corner and maybe started hitting their stride under first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski. I do feel, however, that they've been made to a look a little better than they are the last several weeks, as opposed to Indy, where some of that dynamic is at play, as well. I just think it's to a lesser extent. This being at home helps the Browns, but I think Indy's defense playing better will pay off in this spot. I'll take the Colts.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Indianapolis Colts minus 2.5 points. Bet the Colts-Browns 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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