Vegas makes Browns favorites in two of first 16 games in 2018

Hope lives: Las Vegas thinks the Cleveland Browns will win a game in 2018.

It won’t happen until Week 3, though. Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology favors the Browns for Thursday night’s game in Cleveland against the Jets, one of two games the Browns are favored.

They are initial lines and include only the first 16 weeks of the NFL season. Week 17 is not released because of the unpredictability of teams that have made the playoffs at that point in the season resting their starters.

The Browns are favored twice: Over the Jets and in a Week 15 game at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.

They are underdogs in all the other 14 games.

CG makes the Browns a 3½-point favorite over the Jets, and a one-point favorite over the Bengals.

It’s not a complete surprise that the Browns are favored over the Jets. The game is in Cleveland, the Jets are coming off a 5-11 season and are going through a quarterback transition. But Tyrod Taylor is expected to play the role in Cleveland that Josh McCown played with the Jets in 2017, as the capable veteran able to keep the team competitive while the search for a long-term starter continues.

The Bengals’ margin is a bit surprising, and may not go over well in Cincinnati. The Bengals have won seven in a row over the Browns -- and it will be eight if Vegas is right about the first game between the two teams. The Bengals won twice in 2016 by 24 and 14 points, and have averaged a 21.4-point margin of victory in the seven games.

The Bengals finished the 2017 season with a 7-9 record.

In the other 14 games, the Browns are getting points.

Pittsburgh is favored by seven in the opener in Cleveland, New Orleans by 10 in Week 2. The Browns are double-digit underdogs in two other games: at Pittsburgh (10½) and at Houston (10). CG obviously believes Deshaun Watson will be healthy and playing in 2018 like he did as a rookie.

The Browns are underdogs by at least a touchdown in five games, and are not favored to win any game on the road.

It also marks progress for the Browns: Last year they weren't picked as favorites in any games by CG.