The San Francisco 49ers are traveling to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 14, and even though the Browns are playing possum with their starting quarterback, they are a favorite. A Sunday morning look-ahead line at the Westgate had the 49ers as a three-point underdog. When the Westgate formally opened the line Sunday afternoon, the 49ers were a two-point underdog. On Monday afternoon, the line has the 49ers as 1.5-point underdogs.
The Browns are reportedly going to start Johnny Manziel this week, but head coach Mike Pettine said on Monday that he would wait until Tuesday to announce his decision. Austin Davis did some solid work late in relief of Josh McCown against the Ravens in Week 12, but was not particularly good in Week 13 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Manziel was benched for two games due to discipline issues. I really have no idea if either player accounts for much, but my guess is Manziel gives the Browns the slightest of bumps at the sportsbooks.
The Browns present an interesting challenge for this 49ers squad. The 49ers got a big road win over the Chicago Bears last week, and appear to be a better team than the Browns. The 49ers have generally faired well against other mediocre-to-bad teams. The 49ers beat Baltimore, Atlanta, Chicago, and Minnesota, and almost beat the New York Giants. I still don't quite get the Vikings win, but the other three wins make some semblance of sense. There are plenty of questions to discuss about each, but all three teams are either at the bottom of the league, or trending that way.
I bring all that up because the Browns are looking like the worst, or nearly worst team in the league. Draft order aside, this is a game this 49ers team should win. If this squad is showing improvement, going on the road and beating a bad team is a necessary step. I do have concern about a potential letdown, but that is just one more thing we have to figure out with this new-look 49ers team.