NFL Week 7 Picks: Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns (2-4 SU, 2-4 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-3 SU, 2-3-1 ATS)
When: Sunday, October 23, 1 p.m.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Point Spread: CLE +6.5/BAL -6.5 (Bet the game for FREE by scoring a 100% real cash bonus!)
Total: O/U 45.5
Another season seems to be spiraling downward for Cleveland, as the Browns have lost three straight games and don’t really seem to be capable of pulling themselves out of this tailspin. Things got a lot worse in a hurry for Cleveland last week at home against New England, as the Patriots rolled to their highest point total of the season and easily shut down the Browns. So far, Cleveland has been the Giants without the luck or the ability to finish games, as the Browns run the ball well but do not get the job done when it matters most.
The same can be said for the Ravens. Baltimore could and probably should be 6-0, but the Ravens have failed to close out Miami, Buffalo, and the Giants on their way to three aggravating losses by four points or less. In fact, four of Baltimore’s six games have been close, which is why the Ravens have just two covers on the season. This team hasn’t managed to close out contests when it gets a chance to do so, and Lamar Jackson’s tendencies to force things when they aren’t there directly led to the Giants’ comeback in the fourth quarter a week ago. However, with Cleveland spiraling, Cincinnati in a Super Bowl hangover, and Pittsburgh’s offense just looking terrible, the Ravens are in the best shape in the AFC North. A win here would give Baltimore two division wins with four divisional games left to play, putting the Ravens in a prime position to win the division and get the home postseason game that comes with it.
Whether Baltimore can keep piling on Cleveland’s misery remains to be seen, as the Ravens should have the kind of defense that can shut down the Browns. They also had the same advantage on the Giants and couldn’t close that deal, however, so betting the Ravens is a risk.
How the Public is Betting the Cleveland/Baltimore Game
The public and the money are both on the Ravens’ side here. Baltimore has gotten 66% of the tickets and has seen its number rise from -6 to -6.5, even as the total has decreased from 46 to 45.5.
Defensive end Myles Garrett (shoulder) and defensive end Alex Wright (quadricep) are probable. Linebacker Tony Fields II (illness), tackle Jack Conklin (ankle), running back Demetric Felton Jr. (wrist), defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (ankle), defensive tackle Taven Bryan (hamstring), safety Ronnie Harrison Jr. (illness), guard Joel Bitonio (elbow), linebacker Deion Jones (shoulder), cornerback Greedy Williams (hamstring), tackle Chris Hubbard (illness), tackle Joe Haeg (concussion) and cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) are questionable. Wide receiver Michael Woods II (hamstring), guard Wyatt Teller (calf), running back Jerome Ford (ankle), linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. (quadricep), defensive end Chase Winovich (hamstring), tight end Jesse James (bicep), defensive end Chris Odom (knee), quarterback DeShaun Watson (suspension), wide receiver Isaiah Weston (knee), guard Dawson Deaton (knee), center Nick Harris (knee), wide receiver Jakeem Grant (Achilles) and defensive end Stephen Weatherly (knee) are out.
Tackle Morgan Moses (heel), tight end Mark Andrews (knee), quarterback Lamar Jackson (hip), running back J.K. Dobbins (knee), tight end Charlie Kolar (hernia), linebacker David Ojabo (Achilles), linebacker Tyus Bowser (Achilles), running back Gus Edwards (knee), linebacker Justin Houston (groin), cornerback Jalyn Armour-Davis (personal), running back Justice Hill (hamstring), wide receiver Rashod Bateman (foot) and guard Ben Cleveland (foot) are questionable. Safety Marcus Williams (wrist), defensive tackle Michael Pierce (bicep), linebacker Josh Ross (foot), linebacker Steven Means (Achilles), tackle JaWuan James (Achilles), cornerback Kyle Fuller (knee), and linebacker Vince Biegel (Achilles) are out.
When Cleveland Has the Ball
All you have to do to look at why Cleveland lost to New England as badly as it did is look at the number of throwing attempts on Jacoby Brissett’s part. Cleveland’s game plan involves running the ball with Nick Chubb as often as possible, keeping the other offense off the field, and grinding out yards and clock a little at a time. But defensive whiz Bill Belichick invited the Browns to pass, and Cleveland accepted the invitation, attempting 45 passes against the Patriots.
Of course, that was exactly what New England wanted the Browns to do, as Brissett completed just 21 passes, threw two interceptions, and Chubb never got a chance to take over the game. Baltimore likely saw all of that and will try to use its powerful run defense to keep Chubb from getting much momentum going. The question here is whether Cleveland will fall into the same trap New England set for the second straight week. If Brissett puts the game on his shoulders, Cleveland is going to have a hard time getting much going against the Ravens. Even though teams can pass on Baltimore, Brissett doesn’t really have the accurate arm needed to take advantage of the Ravens’ weakness.
When Baltimore Has the Ball
The question here is, what kind of personnel are the Ravens going to put on the field? Lamar Jackson is slowed by a hip injury, and he has been limited in practice in the days leading up to the game. The Ravens have a solid backup in Tyler Huntley, who has gone up against Cleveland before when Jackson was unable to go. Huntley played well in that game, completing 27 of 38 passes for 270 yards and a score.
But that game was played with tight end Mark Andrews on the field, and that might not be a luxury Baltimore has this time. The Ravens’ tight end has his own injury to deal with and missed practice Wednesday with a knee issue. Throw in that Baltimore’s running game is also beat up, and it’s difficult to predict just what Baltimore is going to put on the field in this game. If the Ravens are able to shake off their nicks and put a healthy team on the field, they’ll have the edge. If not, Cleveland should be able to limit what the Ravens can do with the football.
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The Ravens have dominated this rivalry at the betting window, as Baltimore has covered the past five times the teams have met. Road teams have done well in the past seven meetings, as the visitor has covered five of seven, but the two exceptions are Cleveland’s past two trips to Maryland. The Browns have just been bad against their divisional rivals in general over the past decade-plus, covering just 12 times in their past 43 meetings against the Ravens, Bengals, and Steelers.
Of course, Baltimore hasn’t been great against the division either, covering in just one of its past five divisional matchups (against Cleveland, of course). But what the Ravens usually don’t do is fail to cover two games in a row. When coming off a loss at the betting window, the Ravens are 5-1 ATS the following week. Of course, the one was the choke last week against the Giants, so take that for what it’s worth. Unders have worked well in Baltimore; the past 11 meetings between the Browns and Ravens in Maryland have gone under eight times.
Here’s another reason the under is looking good for this game: the weather looks like it’s going to suck. Remnants of a southern storm are heading to Maryland for the weekend, with an 80% chance of rain and temperatures falling into the 60s. Wind gusts of 15 miles per hour are possible.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
It’s hard to know what to do with Baltimore so banged up. I think Jackson, Dobbins, and Andrews will play, but if they don’t, the odds of Cleveland covering and winning increase substantially.
For me, the best bet on the board is the under. If the Ravens’ stars play, I’ll back Baltimore, but if not, I’ll take Cleveland and the points. Question: Did you know that we give our FREE expert picks for all sports? You can find these daily on our main free picks page. These are done by our BEST handicappers! Bookmark it and check back daily!
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