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NFL Betting: Ravens-Browns Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 10/30/2013 10:04:07 PM

The Baltimore Ravens are the defending Super Bowl champions. The Cleveland Browns have never made the Super Bowl and have reached the playoffs only once in the past 11 years while winning only one playoff game in the past 23 years. Yet, the two teams are both trailing the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North as the month of November begins. This is a vital game for both teams, something that probably wasn’t anticipated at the beginning of the season. This game figured to mean a lot for Baltimore, but it did not seem likely to mean a lot for Cleveland at this stage.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

Odds: Ravens -2.5

Total: 41

The Ravens barely beat the Browns (14-6, one score) early in the season. It seems that another 14-6 would make a lot of sense here as well. The Browns are still a mess on offense, although they’ve taken a circuitous route to arrive at their diminished state in week nine of the NFL season. The Browns were horrible on offense in the first two weeks of the season under quarterback Brandon Weeden. They then went to Brian Hoyer as their starter and immediately won a pair of games, looking competent on the offensive side of the ball. However, Hoyer then absorbed an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. Weeden, filling in as a backup, beat the Buffalo Bills, but as soon as Weeden began to start games once again, the Browns lost their punch on offense, dropping a pair of decisions to the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. In week eight, Jason Campbell was tabbed as the starter in place of Weeden, underscoring the extent to which head coach Rob Chudzinski doesn’t trust his current stable of quarterbacks. Cleveland probably won’t score much in this contest.

On the other hand, the Ravens aren’t likely to score much, either, in this crucial contest. Baltimore’s offense has lagged behind the defense all season long, partly due to injuries to the team’s skill people and its offensive line. Dennis Pitta was knocked out before the season began. Jacoby Jones was injured in week one against Denver. More hits have kept coming for the Ravens, who looked dreadful on offense in recent losses to Green Bay and then Pittsburgh. Everything about this game points to a low-scoring grinder. The game’s in Cleveland, but can the Browns find enough offense to prevail?

One thing to keep in mind here is that Baltimore will be coming off a bye week, while Cleveland had to endure a very physical game on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the more rugged teams in the entire NFL. Baltimore’s ability to rest for a week and nurse some of its injuries should prove highly beneficial. It will be hard to bet against a veteran team in such a situation against a Cleveland squad that just hasn’t earned the same level of trust from bettors and people in the pro football community.

Prediction

It’s true that Cleveland is hosting this game and should contain Baltimore’s offense, but the Ravens’ ability to rest during a bye week should translate into a focused defensive performance that will shut down the Browns. Take Baltimore here.

Pick: Ravens -2.5

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