The Cleveland Browns walked onto the field Monday night as two-point road favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The mood quickly shifted as the club received a devastating blow when Nick Chubb went down to a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter.
Cleveland dropped a 26-22 decision to fall to 1-1. The Browns opened the season with an impressive win over the Bengals, and began garnering more attention in betting odds to win Super Bowl 58 as a result. The team’s odds have taken a hit in the wake of Chubb’s injury.
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Futures odds react to Chubb’s season-ending injury
In the early part of the second quarter, the Browns were down 7-3 and entered the red zone looking to take the lead. As is often the case when the team nears the goal line, the ball found itself in Chubb’s hands. Unfortunately, the routine play led to disastrous consequences.
Chubb gained five yards on the play to inch the Browns closer to paydirt. His left knee went inward during the pileup, and he had to be carted off the field. Chubb will be out for the remainder of the season. He tore the MCL, LCL, and PCL on the same knee in 2015 during his college days at Georgia. It’s feared that this injury is just as severe.
Entering the season, the Browns were toward the middle of the board in Super Bowl odds. Interest in the team spiked following the convincing win over the Bengals, but the number has tumbled in the wake of the injury to Chubb. Over at Caesars Sportsbook, the club’s current odds of winning the big game stand at .
Heading into last night’s game, Cleveland was behind only the Ravens in odds to win the AFC North. The club remains in second place in the latest division odds, but the gap has widened, and they’re not too far in front of the Bengals and Steelers in the chase for second place.
In odds to make the playoffs or win the AFC, the Browns are now in a similar position as they were at the start of the season: in a crowded group in the middle of the pack. Cleveland has the potential to contend for a spot, but it’ll be that much more challenging in the absence of Chubb, the player who was favored to lead the league in rushing this season.
Who is the next man up in the Browns backfield?
After Chubb was carted off, the Browns capped off the drive with a Deshaun Watson to Jerome Ford hookup for a three-yard TD. The club went for two, with Ford successfully completing the conversion attempt. Ford handled the bulk of the carries the rest of the way, finishing up with 19 total touches for 131 combined yards and a score.
It was a strong performance from Ford under trying circumstances. He’s now fully expected to assume the RB1 role in Cleveland. Ford was a 2022 fifth-round pick at the NFL Draft. He didn’t see much work a season ago, carrying the ball eight times for 12 yards.
Pierre Strong Jr., a fourth-round draft choice of the Patriots in 2022, is next on the depth chart. He also didn’t see much work in his rookie campaign, but he did cap off a lengthy scoring drive on Monday night with a one-yard score.
Behind Ford and Strong, there are no other backs currently on the 53-man roster. Hassan Hall, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia Tech, is on the practice squad. Cleveland will likely look to bolster the running back room via trade or free agency.
Are the Browns still in the playoff mix without Chubb?
The club gets an early bye afterward, and then closes out the month of October at home versus the 49ers, followed by two straight on the road against the Colts and Seahawks. There will be seven games in the book at that point, and we’ll have a much better sense of the state of affairs in Cleveland by then.
Ford played well after Chubb went down. The club appears to be confident that he can take the lead in the backfield. Watson is settling into his first full year with the team, and he has weapons at his disposal. Meanwhile, the defense was excellent in the opening week win over the Bengals. The loss of Chubb certainly takes a toll, but all hope isn’t lost in Cleveland.