Remember when the Browns were among the Super Bowl favorites?
Never has the phrase "pump the brakes" been more appropriate than when talking about the Cleveland Browns and their Super Bowl odds heading into the 2019 season.
It was right around this time last year when the Browns made a pair of blockbuster deals, including the acquisition of star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., that suddenly vaulted them from their standard position as lowly longshots into bona fide Super Bowl contenders with outright odds of +1500.
That was quite a jump for a team that produced a record of 8-39-1 combined in the three previous seasons.
A busy offseason gave Browns fans hope
The Browns had shown promising signs in 2018. They finished the season with a 7-8-1 record, which didn’t get them into the playoffs, but it was a long way from their hideous 0-16 campaign the year before.
Baker Mayfield had his hiccups as a rookie after taking over the starting quarterback role, but he showed glimpses of being that dynamic pivot. In addition to Mayfield, defensive end Myles Garrett, running back Nick Chubb, and cornerback Denzel Ward represented a skilled young nucleus.
The Browns were aggressive in the offseason. They paid a first-round pick to acquire Beckham from the New York Giants. They signed defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, and later signed former Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt. Those moves presented rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens with a number of talented pieces.
However, the offseason hype became too much.
Browns fell flat when games get underway
A season that started with so much excitement quickly spiralled into disarray.
The Browns lost their Week 1 home opener by 30 points. They lost six of their first eight games, and by Week 9 the season looked like a write-off.
Mayfield regressed. He threw 22 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. He also found himself immersed in off-field controversies.
Garrett was suspended for the remainder of the year for a violent on-field incident against Pittsburgh. Trade rumors suddenly began to swirl over Beckham midway through his first season in Cleveland.
And at the end of it all, Kitchens was fired after one year on the job.
Cleveland went from +1500 outright odds six months prior to the season to out of the playoff hunt at the midway point.
The Browns are a cautionary tale
It isn’t fun to re-live another year of hardship for the Browns. But it provides a cautionary tale when evaluating possible bets for futures markets.
The hype train doesn’t appear to be full speed ahead just yet for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But with Tom Brady signing in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers’ outright odds are now +1600 at BetAmerica.
Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play football. He’s won six Super Bowl titles. He has a standard of excellence that few, if any, can match. He’s also 42 years old and will be 43 by the time the 2020 season gets underway. Can he deliver at that age?
Brady will now be tasked with leading an offense that has multiple weapons at receiver. Tampa Bay’s defense stopped the run last year, but was poor against the pass. That needs to be improved.
Does Brady make the Buccaneers a better team? On paper, yes.
If the Browns have taught us anything it's this: Not every team that looks great on paper in March will look great once the season gets underway.