On Sunday, the AFC North division is on the line as the Baltimore Ravens host their bitter rivals the Cleveland Browns in what should be an intense gridiron battle.
Cleveland comes into the game hoping to finish 2018 with a winning record and to play spoiler. The Ravens are looking to win the game and clinch the AFC North title. A loss could cost them a spot in the playoffs. Kickoff inside M&T Bank Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
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|Betting Data||Cleveland Browns||Baltimore Ravens|
|Current S/U record||7-7-1||9-6|
|2018 ATS Home||5-3||3-4|
|2018 ATS Away||4-3||5-3|
|2018 O/U Home||3-4-1||3-4|
|2018 O/U Away||3-4||3-5|
In this battle of the old Cleveland Browns (Baltimore Ravens) vs the new Cleveland Browns, the two teams will look to beat each other in a smash mouth style football game. Sunday’s contest will be the 40th time these franchises have played against each other.
The Ravens hold the advantage with a 29-10 record. Cleveland won the first meeting in 2018 by a score of 12 to 9. Cleveland’s victory ended Baltimore’s 5 game winning streak. The Ravens are 15-4 at home against the Browns as they’ve won 9 out of the last 10 games at home.
Cleveland (7-7-1) comes into this contest on a three game winning streak and hopes to make it 4 in a row with a win at Baltimore. The Browns would love nothing more than to play the role of spoiler and prevent the Ravens from making the playoffs.
A win by Cleveland and a win by Pittsburgh would knock the Ravens out of the postseason. Can Cleveland continue their revenge tour against Baltimore?
The Ravens (9-6) have won 4 of their last 5 games with the only loss during that stretch being an OT defeat in Kansas City. Last weekend, the Ravens proved their toughness by going across country and beating the red hot Chargers by a score of 22-10.
Baltimore is hoping their defense and ground game will continue their success this weekend at home, as they look to clinch the division. Will the Ravens choke again, like they did last year?
Depending on which NFL betting site you use, the spread opened with the Ravens favored as high as 7 points. However, since then, most online sportsbooks have lowered that spread to 5.5 points in favor of the Ravens. The Over/Under has seen very little movement since the initial opening of 41 total points. In fact, the majority of online betting sites have kept the O/U unchanged.
Cleveland’s defense has played well as of late, but they’re going up against one of the league’s best rushing attacks and a QB that can break containment on any given play. The Browns have one of the bottom rush defenses in the league as they allow 124.5 ypg.
That spells trouble for Cleveland because Baltimore averages 143 rushing ypg. Furthermore, QB Lamar Jackson already has 605 rushing yards on the year, and that’s been done with only a handful of starts on the season.
Jackson’s ability to extend plays and create magic outside of the pocket will be the difference in this game. I expect a tough defensive battle similar to the first contest of the year, but this week’s version will have a few game changing highlights from Jackson.
Nobody can ignore how solid of a rookie year Cleveland’s QB Baker Mayfield has played so far. Since taking over for Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield has tallied 3,349 yards, 24 TDs and 11 INTs. Unfortunately, he’s going up against the best defense in the NFL and on their home field.
Baltimore is #1 in total yards allowed at 284.1 ypg, #4 against the pass at 198.9 ypg, and #3 against the run at 85.1 ypg. They’re also #1 in the NFL in points allowed, as they give up only 17.5 ppg.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you of just how great this defense is, Baltimore is #3 in 3rd down percentage at 34%, #3 in 1st downs allowed at 17.9 per game, #6 in sacks with 43, and #3 in touchdowns allowed on the season at 30. They’re 4th in the league at just allowing 11 rushing TDs on the year, and 3rd in the league in passing touchdowns allowed at 18 TDs.
Baker Mayfield is going to have his toughest challenge of his rookie year. The first time they played, at Cleveland, Mayfield had 342 yards passing, 1 TD and 1 INT. I don’t see him getting that many yards this week.
Other than Baker, only KC’s Mahomes cracked the 300 yard mark against the Ravens this year. Otherwise, Baltimore has held every other QB to under that number including some of the elite like Drew Brees, Big Ben, Philip Rivers and Cam Newton.
Bottom line, there’s no way the Ravens allow Mayfield to have that kind of success again. Additionally, I don’t see the Ravens losing this game either, which is why I’m going all-in on Baltimore’s moneyline of -245.
Baltimore is 18-3 SU in their last 21 game against the Browns, 9-1 SU at home against Cleveland in their last 10 home games, and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against Cleveland. Furthermore, Baltimore is 20-10 SU as a favorite over the last 3 years, 16-7 SU in home games, 7-4 SU against the AFC, 3-1 SU against their division, and 8-4 SU when avenging a loss.
The Browns are 1-4 SU when playing a team with a winning record, 0-14 SU after a divisional game, 3-13 SU against the AFC North, 3-27 SU as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points, and 0-6 SU as a road underdog of 3.5 to 7 points.
I expect the Ravens to rush for roughly 175 yards this game and play shutdown defense for all four quarters. Mayfield is going to be harassed all game long and forced into some bad throws.
Baltimore wins this game in convincing fashion, but might give up some garbage time points, which is why I’m going with Baltimore’s moneyline for this game and not the spread.
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