Every year, it seems like Cleveland gets lots of preseason favoring (whether it be Baker Mayfield commercial mania or pundits picking them to surpass their lowly win total), the franchise doesn’t fail to disappoint. Well, it’s 2020 and if we couldn’t get any weirder, the Browns appear to be actually surpassing the hype.
- Home Team Line: Cleveland +3
- Total Points: 45.5
- Expected Weather: 34 degrees, less than 1% chance of rain, 18mph winds
*Odds via DraftKings
Cleveland is 9-3 on the year and they rank 8th in Football Outsiders’ pass offense DVOA despite losing Odell Beckham Jr. earlier in the season. However, things may not be as they seem. The Browns have a -15 point differential (among teams with better marks: Chicago, San Francisco, New England). The football gods have blessed them with an easy schedule and they deserve credit for taking advantage of it but it remains to be seen whether they can take care of quality opponents on a consistent basis, as they did last week in Tennessee.
Cleveland may be rolling but several factors favor Baltimore:
- The Ravens are getting key contributors back. Baltimore, which has a +85 point differential (only four NFL teams are better), will have tight end Mark Andrews and wideout Willie Sneed back from COVID-19-related absences.
- Cleveland’s secondary is ailing. The Browns will again be without corner Denzel Ward and safety Ronnie Harrison won’t suit up either. In the earlier matchup between these two teams this season, the Browns put up little resistance against Lamar Jackson through the air, allowing 281 yards on 21-of-26 passing with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The reigning MVP could be in for a similar night against this secondary.
- John Harbaugh dominates in this kind of spot. The Ravens coach is 10-0-1 against the spread in divisional road games after Week 10 (excluding Week 17 because of the propensity for meaningless games), per Chris Raybon of the Action Network.
Are the Browns primed for a letdown? I’d lean yes, and I’ll be sprinkling some of my bankroll on the Ravens at -3 and also on the Moneyline (taking a risk management approach in case of a closer than expected game). I’m also taking a position on the under, as both teams play slow, particularly in the first half. That coupled with the expected high winds and I expect a low scoring affair.
Pick: Baltimore 20-17
Bets: Ravens ML, Under 45.5, Ravens -3 (hammer if line dips down below three).