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Browns to inflict first loss on Niners? Get NFL tips for Monday night

Leigh Copson 4 Oct 2019
Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens and center JC Tretter (credit:USA TODAY Network/SIPA USA/PA Images)

NFL Monday Night Football predictions for Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season. Can the San Francisco 49ers maintain their perfect record as they return to action after a bye week, or will the Cleveland Browns make it back-to-back wins on the road? Read on for all of our free predictions and betting tips.

Cleveland Browns at San Francisco 49ers (Tuesday 01:15 BST)

Life after Jim Harbaugh has been tough on the San Francisco 49ers. The former quarterback led them to three consecutive NFC Championship Game appearances and a losing Super Bowl appearance between 2011 and 2013, but he departed after an underwhelming 8-8 season in 2014 and it has been pretty much downhill ever since.

The Niners have endured losing seasons in each of the past four years, never winning more than six games, but perhaps that are finally making the turnaround in what is head coach Kyle Shanahan’s third season in charge. San Francisco boast a perfect 3-0 record that has made them surprise leaders in the NFC West, but they have Seattle hot on their heels after the Seahawks improved to 4-1 with a home win over division rivals, the Los Angeles Rams, on Thursday Night Football. That means the pressure is firmly on the Niners to make it four straight wins to start the season, but can they pass what is arguably their toughest test yet when they host the Cleveland Browns for Monday Night Football?

At first glance a 2-2 record is hardly impressive, but there have been signs that Cleveland are beginning to get their act together after an underwhelming start. Expectations were high coming into the season, but the Browns opened up with a stinker as they were hammered at home by Tennessee in week one, and a week two success against the New York Jets was not going to garner much excitement even if it was a decent response. A determined effort in a one-score loss to the Los Angeles Rams did suggest the corner was being turned however, and one week later they produced easily their most impressive win of the season so far as they put 45 points on the Baltimore Ravens in a superb 40-25 road win.

Odell Beckham Jr was kept fairly quiet throughout, but Jarvis Landry shone as he caught eight of his 10 targets for 167 yards, and on the ground Nick Chubb exploded on the Ravens as he ran over them for 165 yards and three touchdowns in arguably his best rushing performance of his career so far. Chubb is now coming up against a defense that has not given up much on the ground this season, but then it would not be unfair to say that they have not exactly been challenged like they will be here. And to cap off on the Cleveland offense, the line continues to hold up well, with Baker Mayfield tending to be the architect of his own punishment. So there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that the Browns’ offense is coming together at this time, but can this unit now outperform its 49ers counterparts who have been racking up the yards and points during a 3-0 start?

While San Francisco do boast a flawless record and have been high-scoring on offense, the quality of the opposition faced has not exactly been the cream of the crop in the National Football League – their opponents have a combined 3-10 record and one of those wins came when two of the teams, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, met in week four. So while the Niners must be applauded for their start, I am hesitant to get too carried away with just how good this football team is.

Defensively they have not been challenged that much and on the opposite side of the football I do have major concerns about their inability to look after the football. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown four interceptions already this season, countering his five touchdown passes, and the 49ers have coughed up possession on no less than eight occasions in a three-game spell. Their five turnover display against Pittsburgh made them the first team in over 20 years to give up the football on five occasions and still win the game – that is not good, that is lucky. San Francisco’s sloppiness with the football and Garoppolo’s unhealthy knack for throwing at least one pick per game plays perfectly into the hands of this Cleveland defense. That Browns pass rush has been causing plenty of disruption for opposition offenses and could force Garoppolo into some unwise throws here that could result in the Browns adding to the four interceptions and seven overall turnovers that they have produced already this season.

They can also force Garoppolo into errors by stifling San Francisco’s run game. The 49ers’ early-season success has been built on the Shanahan family tactic of pounding the rock – they produced a 259-yard show on the ground against Cincinnati and followed that up by racking up another 168 yards against Pittsburgh in week three to take their average to 175 yards rushing per game. If they can get the run-game going against this stout Cleveland front then they can give themselves a great opportunity to go 4-0, but if the Browns can slow them down on the ground it could prove to be a difficult night for the 49ers offense which sees Garoppolo make some back-breaking mistakes.

So with all of this in mind I am backing the Browns in the Moneyline market, and for those of you who are no completely convinced about the road team I recommend checking out our ‘Bet of the Day’ for Monday, which backs Cleveland with the aid of a handicap. Freddie Kitchens’ team still have plenty of work to do to turn themselves into serious contenders, but back-to-back road wins would certainly have them heading in the right direction.

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Browns to inflict first loss on Niners? Get NFL tips for Monday night

NFL Monday Night Football predictions for Week 5 of the 2019 NFL season.

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