Trading for Deshaun Watson

The slowest period of the NFL schedule is now in effect. Training camps won’t start for nearly a month after minicamps and OTAs are through. Deshaun Watson, the quarterback for the Browns, may be facing a punishment from the NFL, but we won’t hear much from them until training camp starts.

Due to his displeasure with the Houston Texans and the current total of 26 charges of sexual misconduct, Watson has not played since 2020. The Browns acquired Watson in a trade in March after deciding that his talent was worth the risk and ensuing PR nightmare. Even though Watson recently reached settlements in 20 of his claims, he is still in danger. It’s unlikely that his cases being resolved will have any bearing on a future ban. The Washington Post reported over the weekend that the NFL wants to suspend Watson for the whole season.

There is no disputing that any revelation will have an impact on the pitch and the betting market, even though the Watson problem is far wider than football and gambling. The Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl have already decreased since getting Watson, from 18 to 25. Despite having the third-best odds in the division, they were originally considered favorites to win the AFC North. Even while the market has undoubtedly changed as a result of the conceivable impending suspension, there is still time to participate. Here are two profitable strategies to bet against the Browns before the suspension information becomes public.

Dual Forecast for the AFC North

The AFC North has four clubs who hope to compete, making it one of the strongest divisions in football even though it may not be as anticipated as the AFC West or the NFC West. The Cincinnati Bengals made it to the Super Bowl last season. The Baltimore Ravens were 8-3 at one point before their injuries became too much to overcome. Mike Tomlin hasn’t had a losing record with the Steelers since taking over in 2007.

Deshaun Watson should be suspended by the NFL in the coming weeks. (Nick Cammett/Getty Images )

Even if Deshaun Watson was absolved and played all 17 games, you’d be able to make a very good case that the Ravens and Bengals are the two best teams in this division. If Jacoby Brissett starts a lot of games for the Browns this season, it’s hard to envision a world where they can compete with two very good teams. He averaged 5.7 yards per attempt this past season with Miami in five starts. There is no downfield threat at all with Brissett, which will allow teams to stack the box and hone in on the Browns’ run game.

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Currently at BetMGM, you can bet that the Ravens and Bengals will occupy the top two seeds in the AFC North. This is the chalkiest bet in the market, but it still pays out at +175 which is more than good enough.

Browns to finish last in division

Last season, the Cleveland Browns finished the season with an 8-9 record, which tied them with Baltimore for the worst record in the AFC North. This season, the Steelers are prohibitive -190 favorites to finish the season in the basement of the division. The Browns are +400 to finish in last place.

Baker Mayfield played through injury from Week 2 on in 2021, which severely impacted his play and the Browns’ ability to win. There were questions about whether Mayfield is a franchise quarterback to begin the season anyway, which is the main reason why the Browns went out and acquired Watson. However, even while playing with a torn labrum and other injuries, Mayfield is a better quarterback than Jacoby Brissett. So with the Watson suspension looming, it appears the Browns will play a sizable part of their season with Brissett under center. This would mean that rather than improving their biggest question mark, they downgraded.

The Steelers are the favorites to finish in last place, but they’re coming off a nine-win season and a playoff berth. The combination of Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett can’t be worse than the version of Ben Roethlisberger we saw last season. As mentioned above, Mike Tomlin’s teams are always in the mix. We saw him coach a team with Duck Hodges to an 8-8 record a few years ago. If you’re giving me Jacoby Brissett and Kevin Stefanski at +400 to finish below Mike Tomlin, I’m taking it all day long.

The Ravens finished last in the division in 2021, but it’s really hard to envision that repeating itself. In fact, the Ravens are the current betting favorites to win the division at +165. They were 8-3 last season before injuries to Lamar Jackson and a boatload of other important players submarined their season. As long as Baltimore doesn’t have another catastrophic season on the injury front, they’ll avoid the basement.

A lot of people around the NFL expect the Bengals to take a step backwards in 2022, and that’s not a terrible take. They did win the AFC last year; it’d be easy to take a step back from that. However, with Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase another year older, I certainly don’t expect them to fall into the basement of the division.

If we’re banking on a lengthy suspension for Watson and a lot of Jacoby Brissett under center for the Browns this season, then +400 odds to finish last in the division seems like a good bet to make.