Browns vs Falcons Preview & Free Pick [August 29th 2021]

Cleveland (2-0) at Atlanta (0-2)
When: Sunday, August 29th, 2021
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium,
Atlanta, GA
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: NBC
Opening Odds: Cleveland -6/35.5

The final NFL preseason game on the schedule pits the Cleveland Browns against the Atlanta Falcons on NBC’s Sunday Night Football from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Browns will look to end the preseason a perfect 3-0, while keeping Atlanta winless. Cleveland is coming off a 17-13 last week at home against the New York Giants, but failed to cover the spread after an easy 23-13 in Week 1 at Jacksonville. Atlanta has had issues so far this summer, losing backup quarterback AJ McCarron to a season-ending injury. Veteran Matt Ryan has yet to take a snap and might not again on Sunday in preparation for the Week 1 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Falcons have been crushed in both of their games thus far – 23-2 vs. Tennessee and 37-17 last week at Miami. With Cleveland’s starters potentially seeing some reps Sunday, the Browns are currently sitting as 5.5-point favorites with a total set at 36. Sixteen of Cleveland’s last 20 games in August have gone under the total.

It appears the Browns will have quarterback Baker Mayfield, running back Nick Chubb, and defensive linemen Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney in the starting lineup Sunday. Mayfield has yet to play this preseason and it’s been 2018 fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta taking most reps at quarterback. Lauletta’s been in a battle with veteran Case Keenum for the backup role behind Mayfield. Keenum threw for 74 yards, a touchdown and interception in Week 2 while Lauletta had 152 yards. Running back John Kelly led the rushing attack last week with 58 yards on nine carries and a touchdown, while also hauling in a 21 yard reception. The Browns will be at Kansas City on Sept. 12 in Week 1.

Besides Ryan, the The Falcons have yet to trot out Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts or cornerback A.J. Terrell this preseason. Instead, McCarron started both games for Atlanta before getting injured. Felipe Franks will see more action this week and he has not looked good. The Falcons signed Josh Rosen on Tuesday and should see some action already. Atlanta needs better protection after allowing four sacks for a loss of 23 yards in the Miami game. The Falcons have scored two touchdowns in their two preseason losses, both coming on the ground from undrafted rookie Caleb Huntley and 2017 third-round pick D’Onta Foreman. Huntley led all Falcons running backs with six carries for 57 yards in last week’s loss at Miami. Free agent defensive end Jonathan Bullard has a sack in each of Atlanta’s preseason games.

The Falcons have looked awful so far this preseason and I don’t see that changing this week. Ryan will see limited or no action which means Franks and Rosen will get the snaps. Neither one of them scare me at all. I’ll lay the points with Cleveland.

Pick: Browns -6