Cleveland Browns' fans went from the embarrassment of always losing, to the embarrassment of failed expectations, to the embarrassment of the Deshaun Watson contract. 

Aside from being a serial creep, Watson is an elite quarterback talent when on his game, and has much more around him in terms of talent and coaching in Cleveland than he did when piggybacking Houston to the playoffs all those years.

As of this writing, Watson will serve an 11-game suspension and all the legal sparring has had the Browns’ NFL odds in flux, with futures shifting since the spring and spreads and totals now finally reflecting the situation at quarterback.

What kind of product will the Factory of Sadness be pumping out this season? We find out in our Cleveland Browns 2022 betting preview.

Best futures bet: None

I’m not a big futures fan to start with, but I couldn’t imagine tying up any amount of money worth a wager on a team as volatile as the Browns. Even knowing Watson will be out for 11 games, more could unfold before we even get to his Week 13 return. 

I do believe Cleveland can start the season relatively unscathed without Watson under center and a 5-1 straight up record heading into a Week 7 battle with Baltimore wouldn’t shock me, considering the company Cleveland keeps in the first two months. But the second half of the season is incredibly tough.

This team won eight games with a broken Baker Mayfield under center in 2022 and five of those were one-score games, including a Week 18 victory against Cincy’s skeleton crew. With Watson out until November 27, the Browns’ QB situation sinks below that of 2021 and upon his return, Watson is met with a home stretch that features very stingy defenses (Bucs, Bengals, Ravens, Saints and Steelers).

Cleveland Browns betting overview

What will win bets: Pass defense

The Browns' stop unit ranked out seventh in Football Outsiders Defensive DVOA vs. the pass and owned the sixth-lowest success rate allowed per dropback in 2021. Cleveland should continue to stymie rival air attacks with lethal pass rushers in Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney keeping QBs up at night. The Browns finished with 42 sacks (10th-most) despite only blitzing on 22% of dropbacks.