The 7-3 Cleveland Browns are right in the thick of the playoff picture as the NFL season reaches Thanksgiving Week. After back-to-back wins over division rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh, Cleveland is well positioned to earn a postseason berth if they can piece together a solid finish to the season.
A number of key AFC matchups remain on Cleveland's schedule though and will serve as important tie breakers as conference seeding continues to take shape. First up on this key stretch, a road trip to the Mile High City to take on Sean Payton in the Denver Broncos – a team that is riding a four-game win streak after a disastrous 1-5 start to the season,
During that win streak, Denver has beaten the likes of Kansas City, Buffalo and most recently a solid Minnesota Vikings team. The unexpected turn in their season has caught the attention of the Las Vegas oddsmakers, so much so that according to the SI Sportsbook, the equally red-hot Browns are considered +2.5-point underdogs for their trip to Denver.
It's nothing new to see team's making long road trips to opposite time zones not be favored. The same thing happened to the Browns when they took a trip to Seattle back in Week 8.
Additionally, Cleveland's continued uncertainty at quarterback is likely another reason the Broncos are favored at home. With Deshaun Watson done for the season due to a fracture in his shoulder, the Browns started rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson under center this past weekend and eked out a win over Pittsburgh 13-10.
Meanwhile, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson is having a sneakily solid season as he's completing a career-high 69-percent of his passes, for 2,065 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Due to constant changes at QB this season, the Browns have seen wild shifts to their lines throughout the week leading up to games. Upon the announcement of Watson's injury in Week 11, the Browns went from -4.5-point favorites to momentary underdogs, with the line eventually settling around -2.5 in favor of Cleveland.
For what it's worth, the Browns are planning to sign veteran QB Joe Flacco to their practice squad today with the expectation that he'll be added to the active roster at some point this week. It's unclear if the Browns would plan to start Flacco so quickly, if at all, especially considering Thompson-Robinson helped lead them to a victory over the weekend.