New Orleans Saints vs. Cleveland Browns
Date and Time: Thursday, August 10, 2017, 8 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Preseason NFL Week 1 Opening Odds: Pick 'Em, O/U 38.5
Saints vs. Browns TV Coverage: Local
Hue Jackson has never really cared all that much about the preseason. Even in his one year with the Raiders, he went 0-4 in exhibitions, giving him the worst record in the NFL amongst the active 32 head coaches.
Still, this year, he has an interesting quarterback quandary. There are three men who will almost all surely start somewhere along the way this year in Cody Kessler, Brock Osweiler and DeShone Kizer, and all three will get some legitimate reps in this game.
The Saints are fairly set at the quarterback spot. Drew Brees will likely play a drive or two before giving way to Chase Daniel. History will tell you that Daniel will play perhaps a full half, as Sean Payton loves to give his immediate backups a lot of reps in the preseason to see what they bring to the table in case anything happens.
Garrett Grayson has been effective in the preseason in his career, and he'll have his shots as well. The Saints' offense won't change for Grayson, who is in his third year as the potential "heir apparent" at quarterback for when Brees decides to call it a career.
You'd have to forgive the Browns if they spend a little more time working on first-team reps in the preseason. Aside from the fact that they were a wreck last year, it's also worth remembering that they've got a lot of new faces in place this year.
Corey Coleman missed huge chunks of last season injured, while Kenny Britt is the new leading receiver on the club. J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler are going to be asked to step into starting offensive line roles as free agent acquisitions, while David Njoku will transition from college to a starting quarterback.
Even on the other side of the ball, Garrett Myles, Jabrill Peppers and Larry Ogunjobi could all end up being starters. This is also the first preseason for Jamie Collins in Cleveland, while both Calvin Pryor and Jamar Taylor are new faces to the starting 'D'.
Teams that are awful usually do all sorts of futzing around with their lineups, and Cleveland isn't an exception. Just don't be surprised if that leads Jackson to try to experiment, perhaps with all of his quarterbacks with at least some of his starters.
Saints vs. Browns Free Picks
Picking New Orleans is the easy thing to do, but we're going to go against the grain. At some point, winning has to matter in Cleveland, even if it's just a matter of winning a game that doesn't count for anything. Jackson knows that, and that makes the preseason a little more important for him than most of the other coaches around the NFL.
It's a little gutsy, knowing that Cleveland struggled so badly offensively last year in the preseason with just an average of 11.0 points per game. However, we still suspect this will be different with Kizer making his NFL debut and with both Kessler and Osweiler having something to prove. Assuming that each quarterback has at least one halfway decent drive or so, we have to imagine that Cleveland can come up with enough offensively to finish off what should be a celebrated victory.
Saints vs. Browns ATS Pick: Browns PK at BookMaker.eu
Saints vs. Browns Score Prediction: Browns 24, Saints 20