Monday Night Football Picks: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns Odds & Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/26/2015
Will I occasionally check in on this week's Monday night game between Baltimore and Cleveland? Of course -- I will have money on the game, plus it still matters in terms of fantasy football leagues and confidence pools. But I definitely won't be watching this lousy matchup between the 3-7 Ravens and 2-8 Browns. (I'll be watching Warriors at Jazz in NBA action as that's Golden State's best chance to lose for a while if it is still unbeaten entering the game.)
We don't even get to see a matchup of starting quarterbacks here as Baltimore will be without Joe Flacco and Cleveland is sans Johnny Manziel. The Ravens' decision to start backup Matt Schaub was forced upon them, while the Browns' call to go back to Josh McCown was by choice (and Manziel's stupidity).
Frankly, the only thing on the line here is potentially earning the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. BetOnline has a prop on that with the Browns as +250 favorites and the Ravens at +500.
Ravens at Browns Betting Story Lines
Cleveland enters on a five-game losing streak. The Browns were on the bye last week, but they made national news because a video surfaced of Manziel partying with his boys back in his home state of Texas. Normally not a big deal for a 22-year-old to have some fun on his off week, but Manziel is not a normal 22-year-old. Of course, he has had a few alcohol-related incidents and spent more than two months in rehab this summer. When Coach Mike Pettine named him the team's full-time starter following Manziel's good performance in a Week 10 loss at Pittsburgh, Pettine also warned Manziel to be on his best behavior and act like a leader. Manziel, once caught, tried to say the video was old. Clearly that was a lie. Now he's third string and probably won't dress Monday or maybe the rest of the season. Pettine said the team hadn't ever thought of cutting Manziel. I see no chance that Pettine, Manziel or the Browns' GM is back next season. Austin Davis will be McCown's backup.
The Ravens have had the worst luck of any team this season, and they got a double dose of it in last week's 16-13 in over the Rams. Flacco tore his ACL and was lost for the season. The good news is that he should be OK to go by training camp next summer. And it's not like Flacco uses his mobility much, so a torn ACL wouldn't seem to affect him like it did a Robert Griffin III, for example. Top running back Justin Forsett also was lost for the season when he broke his arm against the Rams. Remember, too, top receiver Steve Smith was lost for the year a few weeks ago. So now Schaub starts at QB and presumably Javorius Allen at running back. It's fair to say that the Ravens and Browns now have the two worst groups of skill-position players in the NFL. So don't expect a shootout here even though Baltimore allows 24.9 points per game and Cleveland 27.7.
In Week 5 in Baltimore, the Browns won 33-30 in overtime as 6-point underdogs -- that's their last victory and highest-scoring game of the year. Travis Coon's 32 yarder in OT won it; Cleveland had lost 13 of the previous 14 meetings. McCown threw for a team-record 457 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for one. Tight end Gary Barnidge caught eight for 139 and a TD. Baltimore led 21-9 late in the third but needed a Justin Tucker 23-yard field goal with 25 seconds left to send it into OT. The Ravens were three-and-out on the first possession of OT and never saw the ball again. Flacco threw for 210 yards and a TD while rushing for two scores. Forsett had 121 yards and a TD on 21 carries. The teams combined for nearly 900 yards of offense and neither had a turnover. I'll be shocked if this game resembles that one.
Ravens at Browns Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Cleveland is a 2.5-point favorite (-125) with a total of 41. On the moneyline, the Browns are -150 and Ravens +130. On the alternate lines, the Browns are -3.5 (+125), -3 (+100), -2 (-130) and -1.5 (-135). Baltimore is 1-7-2 against the spread this season (1-3-1 on road) and 5-5 "over/under" (2-3 on road). Cleveland is 4-6 ATS (2-2 at home) and 7-3 O/U (4-0 at home).
The Ravens have covered four straight Monday games. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven following a win. Baltimore hasn't covered in its past nine vs. teams with a losing record. Cleveland is 4-1 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a losing record. The Browns are 0-4 ATS in their past four after a loss of at least 14 points. The under is 6-1 in the Browns' past seven vs. the AFC North. The road team has covered nine of the past 12 meetings. The under is 7-3 in the past 10.
Monday Night Football Picks: Ravens at Browns Betting Predictions
Bovada offered two specials on this game : 1.5 wins for the Browns the rest of the season and .5 interceptions for Schaub. I like over for both -- the Browns will win this and in a few weeks against the 49ers at a minimum. Schaub is, well, Schaub. But he is now in position to earn a $1 million playing incentive bonus in replacing one of the NFL's most durable QBs. Schaub only needs to be on the field for 10 percent of the Ravens' offensive snaps this season to earn that bonus. He would all but guarantee himself that incentive with two full games played.
To me, this game is more mental than physical. The Ravens now know their season is over. They still had very outside playoff hopes with Flacco, but those are gone. The Browns' players are probably thrilled that McCown is back under center and not the immature Manziel, who can't have any respect in the locker room these days. Give the 2.5 points and go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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