The betting market is showing respect for the Raiders this week.
Despite a late collapse in a 45-20 loss to Tampa Bay last Sunday, the Raiders are only 2½-point underdogs at the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
The Browns (5-2) have lost only to 6-0 Pittsburgh and 5-1 Baltimore, albeit both in blowout fashion, while the Raiders (3-3) have lost three of four.
The line opened Cleveland -3 and dropped down. The total has plummeted from an opener of 55½ at some sportsbooks to 49½ with a weather forecast of rain and wind.
Every Las Vegas sportsbook was at Browns -2½ on Friday. Circa Sports and the Golden Nugget had Browns -2½ juiced to -115. The total was 49½ everywhere except the Westgate (49). The consensus money line was Browns -145/Raiders +125.
Circa sportsbook manager Chris Bennett said the initial move down from 3 came on the news that Browns receiver Odell Beckham Jr. would miss the rest of the season with a torn left ACL.
Bennett said he was surprised to see sharps let the market move based on Beckham’s absence, but he’s not surprised that the public is on the Raiders.
“People tend to put weight on losing a star wide receiver like that,” Bennett said, even if Beckham’s absence shouldn’t really affect the spread.
Tight end Austin Hooper (appendicitis) is also out for Cleveland.
“I still think the Browns are at least as good as the Raiders,” Bennett said.
The teams are tight by many measures. The Browns have a -21 point differential after losing by 32 to the Ravens and by 31 to the Steelers. The Raiders are at -26 coming off a 25-point loss to Tampa Bay.
Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, which measures overall team efficiency, rates Cleveland 22nd in the NFL and the Raiders 23rd. Jeff Sagarin’s power ratings have the Browns 15th and the Raiders 16th.
Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said the book has needed the Raiders five straight weeks, but that could change Sunday based on the way the money is heading.
“The early money is on the Raiders, but it’s not overwhelming yet,” he said.
The weather forecast has affected the total, but Esposito points out that the Raiders and Browns have combined to go 10-2-1 to the over.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the total tick up,” he said.
Professional sports bettor Jeff Whitelaw doesn’t have a bet locked in on the game, but said he leans toward the under based on the weather forecast with winds up to 25 mph.
He said he made the line right where it is (Browns -2½).
“If I had to play the game, I would play the Browns,” he said. “The Raiders don’t look like they have continuity right now. I just think Cleveland is a little bit better.”