Gambling guide: Detroit Lions into the unknown against Cleveland Browns

Pride of Detroit

For better or worse, the Detroit Lions will look like a different football team on offense this week in their matchup against the playoff-hopeful Cleveland Browns.

Backup quarterback Tim Boyle was activated this week from injured reserve, and with Detroit’s starting quarterback Jared Goff officially listed as doubtful after suffering an oblique injury last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Boyle looks like he’s going to get his first career start on Sunday afternoon.

There are tons of questions Lions fans are eager to get answers to with Boyle at the helm, but let’s be real, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: how in the world do I gamble on this game?

Anyone who says they have a definitive answer to that conundrum is, to put it frankly, full of it, but let’s use what little information we have at our disposal to make the most educated of guesses.

When Dan Campbell took over the play calling duties from offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn last week against the Steelers, it was, predictably, a very ground-heavy attack from the Lions’ offense. Detroit ran for a season-high 229 rushing yards on 39 attempts—33 of them courtesy of D’Andre Swift in a career-best performance. But there’s a lot of context to consider while you chew on these numbers. For starters, the weather conditions weren’t ideal for passing to begin with, Goff’s aforementioned injury further limited his ability to throw, and the Lions were in this game from start to its miserable finish. it’s that last component that’s garnering most of my attention when thinking about how this Lions offense will look with a different quarterback and against a different football team.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the line for this game has moved from Detroit +9 to Detroit +12 after the few pieces of news broke. The Browns are getting Nick Chubb back for the first time in a couple of weeks which is a huge boost to their offense, and of course, the news of Detroit’s shakeup at quarterback.

For one, I don’t see how Detroit keeps this game close in a similar fashion to last week’s game against the Steelers, so I see the Lions forced to throw the ball more than they did a week ago, even with Boyle under center. So here’s a same-game parlay I see worth throwing down some of your hard-earned cash on to see it multiply:

Tim Boyle over 174.5 passing yards
Detroit Lions +21.5
Odds +135

Teasing the spread to three touchdowns and a hook seems like a safe differential for a Browns team that has only topped that margin of victory once this season—two weeks ago in a weird 41-16 victory of the Cincinnati Bengals. Detroit had a couple of stinkers before their bye week, but one thing that hasn’t been mentioned yet is the health of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who comes into this game with a laundry list of injuries.

As for Boyle’s passing yards, you’re looking to get around 44 yards from him per quarter to hit that over, which seems like it could happen in a couple of ways, the likeliest being a late-game barrage of throws to try and bring the Lions back into a game they’ll likely be trailing in. Cleveland’s vaunted pass rush with Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney certainly poses a threat, but the Browns pass defense hasn’t been good on the backend—ranking 26th in pass defense DVOA according to Football Outsiders—and with Detroit’s starting tackles back for a second week in a row, perhaps Boyle will have some more time afforded to him to test that Browns secondary.

Is this bet fool’s fodder? A guaranteed lock? Got a better bet? Sound off in the comments and let’s win some money!

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