Cleveland is a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS off a loss under head coach Mike Pettine, and I expect that NFL record to remain unblemished Sunday afternoon against the Colts. Indeed, NFL dome teams (Indianapolis) are a money-burning 22-37-1 ATS in the month of December when favored on the road. Meanwhile, Cleveland is a profitable 7-1 ATS versus .650 or better opposition coming off a win and 6-1 ATS at home when failing to cover the point spread by double-digits in its previous game. In other words, the Browns have been responding exceptionally well to adversity, and coach Pettine has done a terrific job in changing the mentality within the organization.
One of the main reasons for this investment is the Colts’ suspect defense, which is allowing 23.6 points per game on 365 total yards at 6.0 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play against a mediocre defensive squad. Even more concerning is the fact that Indianapolis is yielding 30.2 points per game and 423 total yards at 6.6 yards per play on the road this season. Overall, the Colts’ stop unit is 0.3 yards per rush play, 0.1 yards per pass play and 0.3 yards per play worse than average in 2014.
In contrast, Cleveland takes the field with a decent stop unit that is allowing 20.4 points per game on 359 total yards at 5.4 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.7 yards per play against a mediocre defensive squad. The Browns are also 4-2 at home where they are limiting opponents to just 18.3 points per game.
Cleveland’s secondary is 0.6 yards per pass play better than average (6.2 yards per pass attempt to teams that would combine to average 6.8 yards per pass attempt), which matches up well against a pass-heavy Indianapolis attack that is 0.9 yards per pass play better than average (7.9 yards per pass play to teams that would allow 7.0 yards per pass play).
Overall, Indianapolis possesses a modest 0.4 yards per play advantage offensively over Cleveland’s stop unit. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s attack maintains a nominal 0.1 yards per play advantage over the Colts’ defense, although I expect quarterback Brian Hoyer to have success against a subpar Indianapolis secondary. Specifically, Cleveland is 0.3 yards per pass play better than average (67.4 yards per pass attempt against teams that would combine to allow 7.1 yards per pass attempt), while then Colts’ secondary is 0.1 yards per pass play worse than average.
More importantly, Indianapolis’ secondary is giving up 8.2 yards per pass play on the road and 8.7 yards per pass play over its last three games, whereas the Browns are averaging 8.0 yards per pass play at home and 7.4 yards per pass play over their last three contests. My math model only favors Indianapolis by one point and the Browns apply to a very good 79-21-3 ATS NFL home bounce-back situation of mine that is predicated upon 26-10 loss to Buffalo last week.
Coach Pettine also made the right decision by sticking with Brian Hoyer as his quarterback. In fact, Hoyer is 19-8 ATS as a starter, including 12-6 ATS over the last three seasons, 9-4 ATS as an underdog, 7-4 ATS in competitively-priced games (0 to 7 points), 9-0 ATS with a total between 46 and 53 points, 4-0 ATS versus teams with a win percentage between .620 and .720 and 14-5 ATS versus teams allowing 6.1 yards per pass attempt on the season.
With the Browns standing at 4-0 ATS in their last four home games versus NFL teams with a winning road record, grab the generous points and invest with confidence.