Johnny Manziel benched for Partying – Josh McCown to start against Ravens

johnny-manziel-browns-starterThis was supposed to be Johnny Manziel’s long-term audition to be the Cleveland Browns’ quarterback of the future. Instead, Manziel’s audition will end far sooner than expected since he’s been benched for partying.

TMZ posted a video of Manziel partying in Austin, Texas during the Browns’ bye week last weekend.

While Johnny Football didn’t get into any trouble, it brings to light that he may indeed still love drinking. Manziel spent 10 weeks of the offseason in rehab because of his addiction to alcohol. And this disturbed head coach Mike Pettine, who said that the second-year QB has displayed a “repeated pattern of behavior” towards drinking.

Pettine also confirmed that former starter Josh McCown, who was previously out with a rib injury, will reclaim his role. Here’s an official statement from Pettine on the matter:

“Josh McCown will be the starting quarterback on Monday night against the Ravens. I informed the quarterbacks of that decision after I sat down and spoke with Johnny, Flip (John DeFilippo) and Kevin (O’Connell) after practice today. Johnny will be the third quarterback. I’ve spoken to Ray (Farmer) and Jimmy (Haslam) to inform them of my decision, and they are in full support.

“Everyone in this organization wants what is best for Johnny just like we do for every player in our locker room. I’m especially disappointed in his actions and behavior because he has been working very hard. The improvements from last year to this year have been tremendous but he still has to consistently demonstrate that he has gained a good understanding of what it takes to be successful at the quarterback position on this level. It goes well beyond the field. We are going to continue to support him in every way possible, but at this point, we’ve decided it’s best to go with Josh as the starter going forward.”

johnny-manziel-vs-browns-1Manziel has appeared in six contests for the Browns this season, starting two of them. He led Cleveland to one of its two wins when starting against the Tennessee Titans. This led to cries from fans and the media that Manziel should get a chance to truly show if he’s the team’s QB of the future.

That chance finally came two weeks ago, when the team announced that Manziel would start the remainder of the regular season. And it seemed like the perfect decision, given that the 2-8 Browns are well out of postseason contention.

He put up his biggest numbers in his short two-year career against the Steelers on Nov. 15. Manziel completed 33-of-45 passes for 372 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Unfortunately the Browns lost 30-9, but this was to be expected against a superior team on the road.

Manziel said that he planned to “relax” during the bye week like the rest of his teammates were doing. However, this obviously wasn’t the case when he was spotted partying at a club in Austin.

It’s unclear whether the 22-year-old will remain the No. 3 quarterback for the rest of the season, or if he could once again play this season. As of now, he boasts pretty solid numbers with a 59.4% completion rate, 933 passing yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in six games.

McCown has been even more impressive for Cleveland under center, with a 65.0% completion rate, 1,897 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions in nine games. The only reason why there’s been so much pressure on the Browns to replace McCown with Manziel is because he’s 36 years old and is likely nearing retirement.

Now, here’s GTBets’ line for Cleveland’s next game against the Baltimore Ravens.

11/30/15 at 8:30pm EST
Baltimore (-101)
Cleveland -2.5 (-119)

Game Over 41 (-110)
Game Under 41 (-110)

2015 NFL Power Rankings Week 6

cincinnati-bengalsThe thrilling overtime game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Seattle Seahawks had some major implications on our Week 6 power rankings. See where both the Bengals and Seahawks now sit, and check out our Week 5 power rankings here.

1. New England Patriots (4-0); beat Dallas Cowboys 30-6, same spot – The Patriots get an AFC Championship rematch with the Colts this week. Will revenge for the Deflategate debacle be on their minds?

2. Green Bay Packers (5-0); beat St. Louis 24-10, same spot – Aaron Rodgers’ interception-less streak finally ends, but Green Bay has still won 12 straight at Lambeau.

3. Cincinnati Bengals (5-0); beat Seattle Seahawks 27-24 (OT), up 1 spot – After an outstanding comeback victory, Cincinnati remains among the unbeaten. The last time the Bengals were 5-0, they made the 1988 Super Bowl.

4. Denver Broncos (5-0); beat Oakland Raiders 16-10, down 1 spot – The offense and defense both have 3 second-half touchdowns this season.

arizona-cardinals5. Arizona Cardinals (4-1); beat Detroit 42-17, same spot – With a loaded backfield, Carson Palmer, and a great defense, Arizona is easily a Super Bowl contender.

6. Atlanta Falcons (5-0); beat Washington 25-19, same spot – The Falcons have scores 3 defensive touchdowns in the past 2 weeks; prior to this, they had just 3 defensive TDs in their past 29 games.

7. Carolina Panthers (4-0); Bye week, up 1 spot – Undefeated Carolina plays a desperate Seahawks team, whom Cam Newton has never beaten in his career.

8. New York Jets (3-1); bye week, up 1 spot – Winning the turnover battle has been key for the Jets this season. They’ll look to keep it up against the Redskins this week.

9. Seattle Seahawks (2-3); lost to Cincinnati 27-24 (OT), down 2 spots – Seattle started last season 3-3, then went 9-1 down the stretch. Can they do the same in 2015?

10. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-2); beat San Diego 24-20, same spot  – This last-second victory keeps Pittsburgh within striking distance in the AFC North.

tyrod-taylor-bills11. Buffalo Bills (3-2); beat Tennessee 14-13, same spot – With three rushes of 20-plus yards, Tyrod Taylor helped the Bills scrape through this contest.

12. Indianapolis Colts (3-2); beat Houston 27-20, same spot – Matt Hasselbeck helped the team survive two in-division contests; now they get Andrew Luck back in time for the undefeated Patriots.

13. New York Giants (3-2); beat San Francisco 30-27, up 2 spots – The Giants have now won three straight after starting 0-2. Hopefully they don’t lose seven straight like they did last year.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (2-3); beat New Orleans 39-17, up 6 spots  – We finally got a chance to see the Philadelphia rushing attack that was so touted in the preseason.

15. Dallas Cowboys (2-3); lost to New England 30-6, down 1 spot – The Cowboys have all sorts of talent…but unfortunately much of that talent is injured.

16. Kansas City Chiefs (1-4); lost to Chicago 18-17, down 3 spots – After surviving a brutal early season schedule, the Chiefs lose to the Bears and lose Jamaal Charles (ACL) for the rest of the season.

17. Minnesota Vikings (2-2); bye week, up 1 spot – Things could be looking up for the Vikings, as they face four teams in a row with losing records.

18. St. Louis Rams (2-3); lost to Green Bay 24-10, down 2 spots – Todd Gurley now has 305 rushing yards in his first two starts.

philip-rivers19. San Diego Chargers (2-3); lost to Pittsburgh 24-20, down 2 spots – For the second straight week, San Diego’s game went down to the wire…this time resulting in a loss instead of a win.

20. Cleveland Browns (2-3); beat Baltimore 33-30 (OT), up 9 spots – Josh McCown his now the first Browns quarterback ever to throw for 300+ yards in three straight games.

21. Chicago Bears (2-3); beat Kansas City 18-17, up 6 spots – Jay Cutler has now engineered two straight game-winning drives, and largely avoided turnovers this season.

22. Baltimore Ravens (1-4); lost to Cleveland 33-30 (OT), down 3 spots – Baltimore is officially off to their worst start in franchise history; but three of their losses have happened near the end of games.

23. Oakland Raiders (2-3); lost to Denver 16-10, down 2 spots – Derek Carr has struggled mightily over the past two games, sporting a 26.1 QBR in these contests.

24. New Orleans Saints (1-4); lost to Philadelphia 39-17, down 2 spots – If not for a meaningless, last-second touchdown, this game would have been even uglier.

25. Washington Redskins (2-3); lost to Atlanta 25-19, down 2 spots – Washington has led at the start of the fourth quarter in two out of three of their losses.

26. Miami Dolphins (1-3); bye week, same spot – Miami gets Tennessee (1-3) and Houston (1-4) to try and turn things around after the Joe Philbin firing.

matt-stafford27. Detroit Lions (0-5); lost to Arizona 42-17, down 5 spots – Should we take the Matthew Stafford benching as anything serious? Or just preserving him in a blowout loss?

28. Houston Texans (1-4); lost to Indianapolis 27-20, down 3 spots – While the offense might not be great, it must be stressed that the defense has only forced 2 turnovers this season.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-4); beat Jacksonville 38-31, up 2 spots – Doug Martin has truly made a comeback, with 405 rushing yards thus far; he hasn’t had more than 494 rushing yards in the past two seasons.

30. Tennessee Titans (1-3); lost to Buffalo 14-13, same spot – Tennessee loses yet another close game. They’re actually the only NFL team right now to lose two contests by 3 points or less.

31. San Francisco (1-4); lost to NY Giants 30-27, down 3 spots – The 49ers have lost by a combined 65 points this year – most in the NFL.

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3); lost to Tampa Bay 38-31, down 2 spots – The Jags seem to have a pretty prolific passing game, but it’s not translating into wins.

2015 AFC North Betting Preview: Three-Team Race for First

Ben Roethlisberger, Pernell McPheeFrom top to bottom, the AFC North was definitely the league’s most-contested division last season. Three North teams went to the playoffs last year, and there’s a decent chance that the same thing could happen again in 2015. The big question, though, is who will emerge this year following Pittsburgh winning the division crown. And can the Cleveland Browns be more competitive this season to challenge the Steelers, Baltimore and Cincinnati? Let’s discuss all of these matters below.

4th in Division: Cleveland Browns; 5-11 W/L Projection

joe-hadenStrengths: While Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary may grab all the headlines, Cleveland also has one of the NFL’s top secondaries. Joe Haden headlines this group, as he’s one of the best corners playing the game today. Safeties Donte Whitner and Tashaun Gipson are also excellent after making the Pro Bowl last season. Either Justin Gilbert or Pierre Desir has the potential to play great at the other cornerback spot, making this secondary a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks.

Weaknesses: Cleveland exceeded expectations last year after going 7-9, with all nine of their losses being by just one score. This season figures to be worse, though, namely because the QB and wideout situation is so dismal. Josh McCown will take the reigns after a terrible season in Tampa Bay, while Johnny Manziel is waiting in the wings should McCown play badly again. Dwayne Bowe leads an uninspiring group of wide receivers that won’t give McCown or Manziel much help.

3rd in Division: Baltimore Ravens; 9-7 W/L Projection

joe-flaccoStrengths: For well over a decade, the strength of Baltimore has been their all-around defense. 2015 should see more of the same coming off a season where they ranked second in sacks at 49. Elvis Dumervil (17 sacks) and Terrell Suggs (12 sacks) led this effort, while C.J. Mosley and Timmy Jernigan were also instrumental in pressuring quarterbacks. Adding D-lineman Carl Davis and inside linebacker Za’Darius Smith should also bolster this defense.

Weaknesses: Receiver is the glaring weakness here, especially with deep threat Torrey Smith going to the San Francisco 49ers. Steve Smith had another solid 79-catch campaign; but how much of the load can you place on a guy who’s 36? First-round pick Breshad Perriman was supposed to help shore up the problems at receiver; but he hasn’t had much practice time after spraining his PCL early in camp. Overall there are enough good players on this Baltimore team to potentially make the playoffs, but probably not enough to win the division.

2nd in Division: Cincinnati Bengals; 10-6 W/L Projection

giovani-bernard-rookie-1Strengths: Cincinnati will have one of the NFL’s toughest running back duos to stop. Both Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard are coming off seasons where they gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage – something made even more impressive when considering that Hill didn’t play regularly until mid-way through the season, and Bernard sat out three games due to injury. Hill, the power back, and Bernard, the speedy receiving back, can give the Bengals so many different looks out of the backfield that it’s ridiculous.

Weaknesses: Andy Dalton did not play well in 2014, despite having a number of weapons to help his cause. The fifth-year player threw just 19 TDs against 17 interceptions last season, which is pretty bad when you have A.J. Green to toss the ball to. Even worse is his 1:6 TD-INT ratio in the postseason, which fairly places the blame on his shoulders if Cincinnati can’t get out of the divisional playoff round.

1st in Division: Pittsburgh Steelers; 12-4 W/L Projection

antonio-brown-steelersStrengths: Pittsburgh may have more offensive weapons than any other team in the league. Ben Roethlisberger is coming off a season where he tallied over 5,000 yards and 32 touchdowns, while his favorite target, Antonio Brown, had 129 catches, 1,698 yards and 13 touchdowns. Add in emerging wideouts Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant and it’s easy to see the Steelers passing offense being even more prolific in 2015. RB Le’Veon Bell will also get plenty of targets out of the backfield.

Weaknesses: The secondary is full of holes, beginning with outside corners William Gay and Cortez Allen, neither of whom are great. Mike Mitchell is an average free safety while the raw Shamarko Thomas will battle the aging Will Allen for the starting strong safety slot. Slot corner Brandon Boykin may be the only truly solid commodity here.

Will Browns cut Johnny Manziel?

Cleveland Browns v Washington RedskinsIt’s always hard for an NFL team to cut ties with a first-round selection. After all, this is essentially the front office admitting that they totally botched what should have been a sure-fire pick. But for the Cleveland Browns, the time to finally admit their mistake with Johnny Manziel could be arriving by the end of this summer.

He seemed like a future star after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy. The Texas A&M star then put up another strong showing in his sophomore season, despite not winning the Heisman again. This was all the push Manziel needed to convince himself that he was ready for the NFL.

Johnny Football made himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft, eventually going to the Cleveland Browns, as they traded up to draft him 22nd overall. This should have been a great marriage, given that Manziel was an excellent college quarterback and Cleveland hasn’t had a decent signal caller for the past decade and a half. What’s more is that it seemed like a great choice for the fans of Cleveland, who’ve been looking for any kind of spark that could make the normally dismal Browns worth watching.

But so far, everything has gone terribly wrong…

johnny-manziel-browns-starterFirst off, Manziel made more headlines for his hard-partying ways and wide range of celebrity friends than he did with practice habits or work ethic. The result was an under-prepared Manziel putting up little resistance to Brian Hoyer, who walked away with the starting job unscathed. It wasn’t until Week 15 that Johnny Football was finally able to unseat Hoyer and get his chance to shine.

The result was a disaster as he completed 10 of 18 passes for 80 yards and two interceptions. What’s worse is that the Browns got skunked 30-0, ending the miserable NFL debut of Manziel. The following week he was off to another terrible start against the Carolina Panthers, only to pull his hamstring and end his rookie season.

This was only the beginning, though, because he checked into a rehab facility after the Super Bowl as a final hope for turning around his out-of-control lifestyle. It was at this point that Cleveland inked a deal with 35-year-old Josh McCown, who showed flashes of brilliance with the Bears. Given everything that Cleveland has already been through with Manziel, they seem more than ready to move on from the talented, but troubled quarterback.

McCown will enter the preseason as the starting quarterback, but there’s still a competition open. If Manziel can outplay McCown in camp, it would at least justify keeping him on the roster, despite the potential for his antics. However, assuming he shows a lack of improvement from last year, where he looked nothing like the guy who dominated college teams while at Texas A&M, then it would be easy to see Cleveland cutting him. After all, what team wants a high-profile backup around who creates a media circus wherever he goes.