MNF Pick: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Baltimore Ravens (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (9-3 SU, 5-7 ATS)
When: Monday, December 14, 8:15 p.m.
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland
Point Spread: BAL -1/CLE +1 (Get the best bonus - 100% bonus up to $1000!)
Total: O/U 46.5
It’s kind of appropriate that the Browns are finally on track to reach the playoffs and only 12,000 fans are allowed into FirstEnergy Stadium (the only current NFL stadium that has never hosted a playoff game or a Super Bowl), because 2020. But the Browns still aren’t seen as a top team because they’ve done little more than beat the teams they should beat this season, and up until last year, they hadn’t proven they could beat a playoff team. That narrative has changed slightly after Cleveland dismantled Tennessee before allowing the Titans to make a game of it, but the public is still not buying the Browns as being for real.
The public is much more willing to forgive the Ravens, even though Baltimore is really fading down the stretch. The Ravens had no problem dismissing the Cowboys, who are a complete disaster, but Baltimore’s passing offense was a mess against Dallas and the offense as a whole has really struggled. That win ended a five-game streak of Baltimore scoring 24 points or less, as the Ravens frankly haven’t looked like the same team since their bye week. They crushed Cleveland in Week 1, but the Browns believe they’ve gotten much better since then. Can they finally prove the hype?
How the Public is Betting the Baltimore/Cleveland Game
We’ve got a pros vs. joes situation here, as 59 percent of tickets have come in on Baltimore, but the money is coming in on Cleveland. The line has dropped from -2.5 to the Ravens to the current -1. The points have dropped accordingly, falling from 48 to 46.5.
Wide receiver Dez Bryant (illness), cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin), defensive tackle Broderick Washington (concussion), wide receiver Chris Moore (knee) and cornerback Tramon Williams (thigh) are questionable. Quarterback Robert Griffin III (hamstring) and safety Geno Stone (illness) are out indefinitely
Guard Wyatt Teller (illness), safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. (shoulder), wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (knee) and wide receiver Taywan Taylor (neck) are out indefinitely. Cornerback Denzel Ward (calf), wide receiver Khadarel Hodge (hamstring), safety Tedric Thompson (illness) and linebacker Mack Wilson (concussion) are questionable.
When Baltimore Has the Ball
Boy, was that Ravens game ugly if you’re a fan of passing offense. Baltimore pretty much threw the pass out the window even with Lamar Jackson back on the field, as he ended up throwing for a mere 107 yards against Dallas. Of course, Jackson didn’t need to do much more than that because he and Gus Edwards (and J.K. Dobbins) ran all over Dallas for 294 yards.
But this Baltimore team appears to be a shell of the one that started the year so well. The Ravens have really struggled to move the ball against good defenses, and they now find themselves on the outside looking in at the playoff race. The Ravens are completely dependent on Lamar Jackson, and with him barely throwing, the running game is more important than ever. That worked well against collapsing Dallas, but Cleveland’s defense ranks eighth against the run and should be able to slow down the Ravens if the Browns play to their potential. The Ravens clearly don’t want Jackson throwing right now, but they might not have a choice. Not only is Cleveland much weaker against the pass, but Jackson had his best day of the season against Cleveland in round 1.
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When Cleveland Has the Ball
Here’s the motivation for the Browns in this game: a win here means all Cleveland would have to do to clinch a playoff berth would be to beat either the Giants or the Jets. The good news for the Browns is that Baker Mayfield doesn’t seem to be concerned with how the Browns win as long as they do win. Cleveland has been winning ugly as of late (except for last week against Tennessee), but the Browns are getting the job done because Mayfield isn’t turning the ball over.
The last time Mayfield threw an interception was Oct. 25 against Cincinnati, which ended a three-week stretch of five interceptions in three weeks. Since then, Mayfield has just six touchdowns in five games, but the important thing is the zero in the turnover column. Cleveland’s offense isn’t dynamic without Odell Beckham, but the Browns have been steady and made sure not to beat themselves. Cleveland is plus-7 in turnovers, a big reason why the Browns are 9-3.
What Cleveland needs to do better than the first game is get Nick Chubb more involved than he was in the first game. The Browns got solid running from Chubb last time, but the Ravens knocked the Browns out of the game so quickly that Cleveland never had a chance to establish the run. If the Browns keep the ball out of the Ravens’ hands, they’re in much better shape.
The Browns have really been a sucker’s bet in conference games as of late, as they’ve covered just once in five games at home. Meanwhile, the Ravens have been beasts in both the division and the year’s final month. Baltimore has covered six straight games in December and has covered in six of seven games against AFC North opposition. Plus, Baltimore has owned Cleveland in this series. The Ravens have gone 9-2-1 ATS in their past 12 tries against the Browns, and there’s been little evidence to suggest that trend will soon reverse.
When the Browns host a winning team, their defense tends to come to play. The under is now 9-2 in games where the opponent is over .500. Plus, overall, the under thrives when the Browns aren’t expected to win and does so again in this series: six of the past eight matches have gone under the total.
This is the perfect recipe for low-scoring football: temperatures will dip into the 30s with winds blowing east-northeast at 13 miles per hour. With morning flurries in the forecast, the fields could be a bit wet.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
Baltimore hasn’t looked right in weeks, and while Cleveland isn’t looking impressive, the Browns are still successfully doing the job of winning games. The fact that I’m getting a point to take the team with momentum at home is a major plus, even if that team is the Browns.
Cleveland looks to be the sharper team right now, and I’ll back them to take a big step toward the playoffs here. This would be a great game to watch a quarter or so to assess before placing a bet. The absolute best live betting platform on the web can be found at Bovada. (See our Bovada Sportsbook Review). They offer a lot more than just game spread and over/under betting. They usually have 40 or 50 live wager options during the game! They also offer a generous 50% signup bonus, rebates on ALL your bets; win or lose and FAST hassle-free payouts! We requested a bitcoin payout recently to test their speed and it was done within 6 hours! Click here to check them out!
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