Cleveland Browns (5-4) -3, 43.5 O/U at Baltimore Ravens (4-5) +3, M & T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, 1pm EST Sunday
by The Crazy Snake of Predictem.com
As if we didn’t have enough plots and sub plots coming off last week, now we get to see if a team without an offense can beat a team without a defense, and vice versa.
This could be Cleveland’s wild card shot right here and it’s Baltimore’s season. If the Browns lose this one they will fall back into the pack for a wild card berth. Despite their soft run home this game still looms as pivotal to their season. At 5-4 they are extremely vulnerable to several teams at 4-5, not to mention two AFC South teams at 6-3.
Baltimore needs to find a way home ie. score more touchdowns or there’s little point winning this one. With Steve McNair injured again, and probably too slow now anyway, the Ravens will fall back on Kyle Boller. I think this could be a blessing in disguise. Whilst I’m not a huge fan of Boller, I doubt they could do much worse than McNair at the moment and Kyle could be an improvement for this ailing offense.
They do meet a lowly ranked and, more importantly, performed defense here. The Browns are woeful. They have to score huge to stay in most games, such is the propensity for giving up easy points. If ever Baltimore needed a soft target to get some offensive mojo happening then it’s right here and right now.
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Pittsburgh actually got the better of Cleveland’s Derek Anderson last week, especially after half time. He ended the game with a season low 123 yards on 16 of 35 completions. He will meet a Baltimore defense which isn’t perhaps as scary as it might earlier have been. They have dropped off the pace in several defensive categories from last season and will be looking to atone.
Ex-Raven, Jamal Lewis will need to run well to help set up the Cleveland drives. On the other side, Willis McGahee will need to take the pressure off Kyle Boller. He has been in solid form having scored a rushing TD is each of his last 4 games. He is on pace for a 1000 yard season and would dearly love to get at least 100 yards closer in this game. Doubtless, the Ravens would like that too.
Despite the Raven’s offensive woes they are still a better team at home than away. They are 3-1 at home against a team which is 1-3 on the road. I don’t know where the Ravens’ points are coming from but at least they have the luxury of going at a very loose defense here. Something might click for them with a different starting QB and a softer coverage scheme. Despite Cleveland’s better than expected form I still can’t easily come at the prospect of giving up points on the road to back them.
The Snake’s Bite: The Ravens are so due. No, they’re long overdue. I have a strong suspicion they will put up a much better effort here, offensively and defensively. There were some disturbing signs for Anderson last week and it could be that he has finally gone off the boil. If that’s the case then Baltimore could capitalize. I have to lean with them at the +3. Years of underachievement from Cleveland isn’t easily forgotten by yours truly.