SNF Picks: Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Cleveland Browns (6-5 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS)
Date/Time: Sunday, November 7, 8:20 PM EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Point Spread: Cle +4.5 / Balt -4.5 (MyBookie)
Over/Under Total: 46
The AFC North is proving to be the NFL’s best division top to bottom this year, and this week we get a prime-time divisional battle between the 1st place Baltimore Ravens and 4th place Cleveland Browns. BETANYSPORTS.EU is making the Ravens 4.5 point favorites and set the over/under at 46. The play is to take the Browns and the points. Here is the handicap.
Neither Offense Is Anything Special
Both offenses come into this week 12 contest middle of the pack averaging around 23 points per game. Baltimore had much higher expectations, but they have never recovered from pre-season injuries to their ball carriers. Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray have filled the running back void, but both are nothing more than plodders at this point of their career. Lamar Jackson is the primary rusher, averaging 6 yards per carry on a dozen carries per contest. Jackson’s rushing is as good as expected, but the lack of alternate running options allows defenses to focus on Jackson, which limits the ceiling of this running game. Jackson is having the best passing success of his young career, but he continues to make mistakes. He has thrown eight picks, fumbled five times, and taken 28 sacks. He has led a couple of late-game comebacks, but he has let the Ravens fall behind with some of his mistakes. Tight end Mark Andrews and wideout Marquis Brown are reliable targets, but neither are game-changers. The Ravens offense can fill the highlight reel, but they won’t run away from the Browns this week.
The Browns offense has its own issues, primarily at quarterback. When Nick Chubb is healthy – which he is now – they have a top 2 rushing offense in the league. Chubb is averaging 6 yards per tote, and the only thing that has stopped him this year has been injuries. He runs behind one of the premier blocking units in the league and will have success again this week. The Browns offense is designed to start with the running game, then burn the safeties and linebackers when they cheat up to stop the run with play-action passing. Baker Mayfield has not been able to do that over the last two months of the season. Cleveland has only twice thrown for more than 220 yards this year and managed only 176 yards against the Lions in week 11. Since Odell Beckham left town, the Browns do not have a receiver that can threaten the defense down the field. Mayfield has a list of injury issues that may be to blame, but the bottom line is he has played horribly, and we shouldn’t expect a lot more this week. Cleveland has failed to reach 20 points in five of the last six games, so we should look for the Browns to be in the 20 range this week.
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Both Defenses Will Keep The Game Close
Cleveland has the weaker offense in this contest, but they counter that with the better defense. Cleveland is 3rd in the league allowing only 3.8 yards per opponent’s rush. They should be able to shut down the Raven running backs and should be able to contain Jackson. Expect the Browns to also be able to pressure Jackson. They have 29 sacks on the year, so they should be able to spend some time in the Raven backfield – potentially resulting in taking away the ball a couple of times. Cleveland does allow 7.5 yards pass attempt, so when Jackson has time, he will move the ball. The Browns have held four of their last five opponents under 20 points, and we should expect another strong performance on Sunday Night.
Baltimore’s stop unit is not the same imposing unit of the last 15 years, but they match up well with the Cleveland offense. The Ravens hold opposing offenses to only 88 rushing yards per game. I would expect Cleveland to get over this number, but it’s not likely the Browns will run over the Ravens front 7. How the Ravens match up with the passing game will be interesting. Baltimore is 28th in opponents’ yards per pass attempt, so they have some been weak in the passing game, but Mayfield hasn’t been able to exploit similarly weak pass defenses.
These Teams Play Close Games
Though these teams are first and last in their division, they are very similar. Baltimore has outscored their opponents by 18 points on the year, while the Browns have been outscored by only 6. Baltimore has only won 3 games on the season by 5 points or more, and one of those was in overtime. Cleveland has been blown out twice, but other than that have been locked in close games all season. With this being a division game, both teams will be a little conservative, and the game should stay close. This has the feel of a game coming down to the final whistle with the team with the ball last having a chance to kick a field goal to win. Getting 4.5 points in this game has to be the right side.
Play the Browns in Baltimore on Sunday Night
Cleveland should keep this game close, and with their running game and defense, have a chance to pull out an upset victory. Play the Browns, and maybe a little on the under.