NFL preseason odds: Detroit Lions at Cleveland Browns

Two teams that finished far out of last year’s playoffs but have realistic hopes of making it in 2013 face off Thursday night in Cleveland as the Browns host Detroit. This game is a pick’em at WagerWeb with the total at 41.5.

The Browns won their preseason opener 27-19 over the Rams in new Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski’s debut. With Brandon Weeden moving Cleveland’s offense on two scoring drives, the Browns jumped to a 17-0 lead against the Rams’ starters. The second-year QB completed 10 of 13 passes for 112 yards and displayed composure and patience in the pocket. He made sound decisions and appears to be making major strides in coordinator Norv Turner’s system. With all eyes on his every move, Weeden drove the Browns to a field goal on their first possession and then threw a short TD pass to running back Dion Lewis.

Last year’s top pick, Trent Richardson, didn’t play in the opener for Cleveland. Richardson was held out of last week’s opener a as a precaution because the former first-round pick was still recovering from a shin injury and the Browns didn’t want to take any chances of it worsening. But following Tuesday’s practice, the Browns’ final one of training camp open to the public, Richardson was told by reporters that Chudzinski plans to use him for “a couple series.” Richardson rushed for 950 yards last season despite playing most of the year with broken ribs. He played 15 games, missing only the finale after rolling his ankle the previous week against Denver.

The Lions beat the Jest 26-17 in their exhibition opener. Lions rookie Ziggy Ansah made an immediate impression when he intercepted Mark Sanchez’s pass and ran it back 14 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. Detroit’s Matthew Stafford played two series, going 3-of-8 for 58 yards and leading the Lions to a field goal. All three of his completions went to Calvin Johnson. Nate Burleson didn’t catch a pass, and Ryan Broyles — who is recovering from a right knee injury — didn’t play. Shaun Hill, Detroit’s backup quarterback, went 11-of-18 for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Lions running backs averaged only 2.8 yards per carry in the preseason opener, and the longest run by a running back went for only 7 yards. A lot of this had to do with the lack of open rushing lanes. Against the Jets, the Lions gave up 292 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air to Sanchez, Geno Smith and Greg McElroy. David Akers and Havard Rugland both went 2-for-2 in the Lions’ preseason opener. Akers remains the heavy favorite to win the starting kicker job, but a lot could change on Thursday.

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