The 2013 NFL Preseason gets underway in earnest tonight with a six game slate that features a nationally televised showdown between the Bengals and Falcons. A more non-descript affair will take place in Northern Ohio as the St. Louis Rams square off against the Cleveland Browns. This evening's clash between the Rams and Browns is scheduled to kickoff at 8:00pm ET at FirstEnergy Stadium. The latest betting line on tonight's contest has the hosting Browns listed as a -4 against the spread favorite and the Over/Under set at 35.5 points. The Rams are drawing a +165 money line ($100 wins $165) to win their 2013 preseason debut.
The Browns do not have a lot on the line tonight, but they will this season as another new coaching staff attempts to drag the legendary franchise out its near 15 year funk. Cleveland canned Head Coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons and General Manager Mike Holmgren after four at the conclusion of the team's 2012 campaign. The Shurmur era, if it can even be called that, produced nine wins while Holmgren's tenure in the front office presided over 19 victories and 45 losses.
Former Panthers offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski steps in for Shurmur this year and with him comes veteran head coach/offensive coordinator Norv Turner. Chudzinski and Turner have a difficult task transforming the Browns offense, which averaged fewer than 19 points per game since 2007, into something useful.
Their task takes on slightly greater significance tonight with the Rams in town and the word out of Cleveland is Chudzinski is prepared to give his starters a little more playing time than is normal for a preseason opener. Chudzinski indicated they will get about a quarters worth of action, which is probably more than Jeff Fisher will give his first stringers.
Fisher's preseason record would indicate he does put at least some emphasis on winning exhibition games, though. Fisher is 34-32 straight up and 35-30-3 against the spread in preseason action; however, Fisher coached squads are 2-5 in their last seven exhibition openers.
2013 NFL Preseason Rams vs Browns Betting Line:
St. Louis Rams +4 (-110), Over 35.5 (-110), +165 (Moneyline)
Cleveland Browns -4 (-110), Under 35.5 (-110), -190 (Moneyline)
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