The Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles will both feature new starting quarterbacks when they meet in Sunday afternoon's Week 1 matchup at Lincoln Financial Field. The second overall pick in this year's NFL draft, Carson Wentz, makes his NFL debut under center for the Eagles, who get the nod as home favorites. Meanwhile, Robert Griffin III looks to revive his career leading the offense for a Browns squad with nowhere to go but up.
Point spread: The Eagles opened as seven-point favorites; the total was 46 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark. (Line updates and matchup report)
NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 30.7-9.9 Eagles (NFL picks on every game)
Why the Browns can cover the spread
After finishing the 2015 season with a league-worst 3-13 record, the Browns underwent wholesale changes during the offseason and enter the campaign with a new head coach and starting pivot.
While the preseason failed to produce any winning results, either straight up or against the spread, the retooled Browns are expected to play a much more exciting brand of football powered by the versatile Griffin, who showed glimpses of his former self in August contests.
The Browns also showed marked improvement on defense during the preseason after surrendering 27 points per game last year, holding opponents to just 20.5 points per game and forcing the point total under on three occasions, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. As well, the Browns are 3-1 against the spread in their past four dates with the Eagles.
Why the Eagles can cover the spread
The Eagles made a bold move last week when they shipped veteran quarterback Sam Bradford to Minnesota for draft picks, and anointed heralded rookie Carson Wentz as their opening day starter. Wentz failed to find the end zone in a brief preseason appearance, but demonstrated great poise and maturity in his four years at North Dakota State, which is expected to help him in his transition to the NFL game.
Perhaps more important to Philadelphia's fortunes on Sunday will be their pass rush, which is expected to harass Griffin all afternoon, looking to exploit a Browns offensive line that allowed 17 sacks in four preseason contests.
That could make life much more difficult for the Browns, who tallied just 11 points per game in the preseason and have failed to score more than 13 points in a road game since a 33-30 win over Baltimore in Week 5 last season.
With both these clubs undergoing significant change during the offseason, plenty of question marks swirl around this Week 1 matchup. Butterflies could impact Wentz' effectiveness in the early going, but with the Browns still searching for answers on both sides of the ball, Philadelphia's defense should provide Wentz plenty of opportunity to get comfortable in his new role and reward him with a big straight up and ATS win.
The Browns are 0-4 SU and 3-1 ATS in their last four games against the Eagles.
The Eagles are 4-1 SU in their last five games in Week 1.
The Browns are 0-11 SU and 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games in Week 1.
All NFL betting lines and point spreads data courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and Odds Shark YouTube for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.