The Cleveland Browns are on Wild Card Upset Watch vs. the Houston Texans

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Apr 9, 2024 08:00 PM
The Cleveland Browns are on Wild Card Upset Watch vs. the Houston Texans

Three shocking developments headline the NFC Wild Card matchup between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns on Saturday, January 14. And all of them can be tough to wrap your head around.

  • What: Houston Texans vs Cleveland Browns
  • Date: Saturday, January 13, 2024
  • Time: 4:30 p.m. eastern standard time
  • Where: NRG Stadium in Houston, Texans 
  • Point Spread: Browns (-2.5), Texans (+2.5)

Before we explore the unique circumstances of this head-to-head, here’s a look at the latest NFL online betting odds leading into Saturday’s showdown:

Cleveland Browns-142+120Houston Texans

Please keep double-checking these online NFL playoff betting odds until you actually submit your wager. Our Texans vs. Browns betting odds are accurate entering Tuesday, January 9. That gives the best NFL online betting sites plenty of time to make adjustments leading into opening kick-off on January 13.

Now, about those shocking developments…The first: that the Houston Texans made it to the 2024 NFL playoffs at all. Even those who believed in quarterback C.J. Stroud entering the season didn’t fathom this team earning entry into the postseason, let alone hosting a Wild Card game.

Cleveland is in the same boat for the second piece to the shocking puzzle. The Browns have battled an absurd amount of injuries and availability issues all year, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Deshaun Watson is done for the year, which has led them to rely on a 38-year-old Joe Flacco to direct the offense. And for the most part, he is performing admirably. Cleveland isn’t here without him.

Then, there’s the final shock of Texans vs. Browns. Read on to find out what it is.

It’s Tough to See Why the Cleveland Browns are Favored to Beat the Houston Texans in the Wild Card Round

We could not believe the Houston Texans vs. Cleveland Browns betting lines when we first saw them. Cleveland’s defense has put up plenty of fight, and Joe Flacco’s comeback is a great story, but, like, seriously?

The Browns are dealing with a ton of key injuries. In particular, their offensive line and secondary are in fragile shape. That really limits the amount of damage they can inflict. Good luck limiting Stroud’s arm and mobility on the run without much consistency in the secondary. And the Browns’ run game will be in trouble if Flacco isn’t perfect. They no longer have enough proven offensive linemen to create holes for Jerome Ford and wildly disappointing Kareem Hunt.

Perhaps oddsmakers and bettors are reading into the Texans’ loss earlier this season to the Browns in Week 16. That would be a mistake. Houston didn’t have Stroud under center for that game. They relied on a combination of Case Keenum and Davis Mills. Their offense will look much different this time around.

And we also cannot ignore just how erratic the Browns remain from week-to-week. They are 9-4 since beginning the season 2-2, but the offense has waxed and waned. Cleveland also just got thrashed by a shorthanded Cincinnati Bengals squad playing for nothing in Week 18. 

Granted, we’re not saying the Texans will march easily toward victory. They have proven spotty against above-.500 squads this season, posting a 4-4 record. Then again, surviving that many games against winning opponents without posting a losing record is a big deal. So, too, is playing at home. We’ll take the Texans in the “upset.”

OSB Prediction: Houston Texans (+120)

Houston Texans To beat the Cleveland Browns

Could Cleveland vs. Houston End Up Being Less Competitive Than Oddsmakers Expect?

As we mentioned above, we’re wondering whether oddsmakers and bettors are reading too much into Cleveland’s Week 13 victory over Houston. However, if that were the case, the latest NFL playoff point spread betting lines seem like they’d look a lot different:

  • Cleveland Browns, -2.5 (-115)
  • Houston Texans, +2.5 (-105)

Since we have the Texans beating the Browns outright, there’s no decision for us to make here. But we’d caution you to avoid the Cleveland vs. Houston point spread altogether if you’re thinking about an investment in the Browns. Their losses this season have come by an average of 16 points. Only two of their letdowns, in fact, have come by fewer than double-digits. 

To that end, it would not surprise us if the Texans win this one by seven-plus points. Consider betting with an online sportsbook that will let you futz and fiddle with the point spread to increase your potential return.

OSB Prediction: Houston Texans, +2.5 (-105)

Houston Texans To cover the point spread against the Cleveland Browns

How Many Points will the Browns and Texans Score?

Settling on NFL playoff over/under betting odds is always a tough decision for us around these parts. The Texans vs. Browns Wild Card game is no different:

  • Over 44.5 (-108)
  • Under 44.5 (-112)

When these two teams met in Week 13, they combined for 58 points. This line is a far cry from that number. 

That makes sense. Playoff football is grittier than regular season football. Teams will look to control the clock more once they build a lead. The Texans offense also isn’t a thermonuclear as C.J. Stroud’s play would suggest. Houston has topped 25 points just once since Week 10.

Combine the play of the Browns’ defense with Cleveland also relying on a 38-year-old arm to run their offense, and this feels like a classic “under” by a mile situation.

OSB Prediction: Over 44.5 (-112)

Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns To score under 44.5 combined points

Take a look at this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can find one that works for all of your 2024 NFL betting:

Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan Favale leverages over 12 years of sports journalism expertise in his role as New York staff writer. He provides in-depth analysis across the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, tennis, NASCAR, college basketball, and sports betting. Dan co-hosts the popular Hardwood Knocks NBA podc...

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