Browns vs. Ravens Predictions, Picks, Betting Tips 9/13/20
Game: Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Date: Sunday, September 13, 2020
Location: M&T Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Odds/Point Spread: Baltimore -9.0
I have been saying for years that the first principle of football is its most basic: football is a physical, violent game, and the team that is more physical and more violent is going to win more than they are going to lose.
Baltimore inflicted that painful lesson on opponents throughout the 2019 season. Their punishing, throwback style was a repudiation of the league’s decade-long trend toward pass-wackiness. It led to the league’s best record (14-2) and an absolutely dominating point differential of +249 (15.6 per game).
If Baltimore was the picture of strength in the NFL last season, then Cleveland was a picture of weakness. Cleveland was the most disappointing team in the league last year. Victims of an absurd amount of preseason hype and their own hubris, the Browns proved that they were soft mentally and physically while bumbling their way to a 6-10 campaign.
But that was last year. And the two teams that will take the field in Baltimore on Sept. 13 are not the same ones that met last year.
Cleveland has a new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, and that alone is a massive upgrade from the puddle of soggy french fry that was leading the Browns last year (Fred Kitchens). Cleveland, perhaps taking its cues from its bigger, badder Raven rivals, spent the offseason bolstering its offensive and defensive lines in an attempt to solidify its foundation. The result should be a team capable of standing firm against Baltimore.
I love the Ravens. I love their roster, I love their approach and I love their organization. But I’m also bracing for their natural regression this year. Only two of the 22 teams in the Super Bowl era to win 14 regular season games were able to match that total the next year (the 1990 49ers and 2004 Patriots). Those 22 teams combined to average just 10 wins the following season.
I’m also a little higher on the Cleveland Browns than most handicappers are this year. Baker Mayfield is a wild card, and I’m not sold on him. However, there is no denying that beyond Mayfield there is a wealth of skill position talent on this team. And assuming Stefanski will be able to establish some actual structure and discipline on offense, this team should be much more dangerous.
Astonishingly, one of Baltimore’s two losses – and one of Cleveland’s six wins – came last September when the Browns absolutely manhandled the Ravens in Baltimore during a 40-25 win. Cleveland rolled up 530 total yards, 193 on the ground, and hammered their AFC North rival on both sides of the ball.
Cleveland has split the season series with Baltimore each of the last two years, going 3-1 against the spread in those four meetings. The Ravens have covered the spread in Week 1 for four straight years. Cleveland is just 5-14 ATS in its last 19 season openers.
This is a spread based on what these two teams were last year. It’s not a reflection of the difference between these two teams heading into this season. Over the last five years, this qualifies as the second-largest spread between these two teams, despite the fact that this is obviously the best team that Cleveland has had during that span.
Finally, the Ravens benefit from one of the three or four best home field advantages in football. That likely won’t be on full display, though, if the NFL opens the season with empty stadiums.
I think the Browns have enough firepower to make this one competitive. And I can see this game finishing around 23-20 either way.
Who will win the Browns/Ravens NFL game against the spread?
Robert Ferringo’s Pick: Take Cleveland +9.0. (Lean ‘Under’ 48.5.)
NOTE: Robert made these picks and predictions in May. Things can and will change in the four months between May and September. These May predictions may or may not match his rated Week 1 picks released to his clients on Thursday, Sept. 10.
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