Week 14 brings us a meeting of familiar foes as the Baltimore Ravens (8-4) visit the Cleveland Browns (6-6).
The Ravens currently sit third in the AFC standings, and a win for them here would put Baltimore in a very strong position to make the playoffs as it looks to further separate itself from the crowd.
Meanwhile, the Browns are in must-win mode if they want to make the playoffs, as their remaining schedule doesn’t get easier from here.
After a Week 12 matchup against Baltimore and a Week 13 bye, this is the second consecutive game the Browns will have against the Ravens. Their previous meeting, like many AFC North battles, was a slugfest, which Baltimore won 16-10.
With injuries abound, this game should be another slow, run-centric affair. For you fans of old-school, rock ’em sock ’em football, this is your game.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 2:00 p.m. ET on Friday, December 10.
Ravens vs Browns Prediction
The Ravens have been subjected to a cruel, near-weekly occurrence of devastating injuries to key players this season. Star cornerback Marlon Humphrey is the latest to go down, as he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.
To add insult to a mountain of injuries, the Ravens lost in Week 13 to a middling Pittsburgh Steelers team. Rather than opting for overtime and sending out the league’s top kicker, Justin Tucker, to tie the game with an extra point, coach John Harbaugh chose to go for two and the win with 12 seconds remaining and his team trailing 20-19.
This decision proved to be Baltimore’s demise, as Mark Andrews couldn’t haul in Lamar Jackson’s pass on the two-point attempt, dooming the Ravens to their fourth loss of the season.
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On offense, the Ravens are operating business as usual. They put up another 100+ yards on the ground, primarily through Lamar Jackson and Devonta Freeman. Lamar’s inefficiency as a passer was once again concerning, and stud rookie wideout Rashod Bateman did not make a single catch.
Cleveland has dealt with its own slew of injuries this year. Baker Mayfield has stated that this is “the most banged up” he has been in his career. On the bright side, the dynamic backfield duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are both healthy again.
These two will look to get going early after struggling mightily in Week 12’s matchup against the Ravens. Baltimore held the duo to 2.4 yards per carry, neutralizing Cleveland’s biggest strength on offense.
The Browns should have an easier time moving the ball on offense this time around with the Ravens’ talent running thin on defense. At home, Cleveland will give Baltimore everything it has to keep its AFC North and postseason hopes alive.
Prediction: Browns 21, Ravens 17
Ravens vs Browns Best Bets
Best Bet: Browns Moneyline (-145) at Caesars
Wager: 1.25 Units
Three of Baltimore’s four losses this year have come on the road. The Ravens have also lost three of their last six games overall. As far as 8-4 teams go, the Ravens look weaker than their record reflects.
Struggling on offense, the Ravens have not topped 20 points in any of their last four games. Lamar Jackson leads the NFL with 37 sacks taken, thanks in part to his tendency to tuck and run.
That bodes well for a Cleveland defense that ranks inside the top 10 league-wide in sacks per game. Jackson was only sacked twice for 10 yards in his previous matchup against Myles Garrett and Co., but the Browns’ pass rush is a persistent threat that can kill drives with successful pressure.
What helped the Ravens defeat the Browns in Week 12 was their strong run defense. Baltimore has allowed just 4.0 yards per carry this season, tied for the fourth-best mark in the NFL.
Losing all-pro tackle Jack Conklin doesn’t help Cleveland’s case, but completely bottling up Chubb and Hunt twice in a season is a tall task for any team. With the previous matchup to plan off of and a bye week to prepare, the Browns should be able to get their run game going and pull out the win, making Cleveland our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Under 43 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1.5 Units
I know Vegas has the best tools in the world to predict probable outcomes in sports, but a game between the Ravens and Browns just screams Under to me.
If the 26-point total from their first meeting wasn’t enough, both teams are in the bottom half of the NFL in points per game while ranking in the top half of the league in rushing rate and scoring defense.
We know the Ravens have struggled to score over their past four games and Cleveland has been just as poor on offense, averaging 10 points per game over their last three. That includes a game against the lowly Detroit Lions.
When these two teams met in 2019 and 2020, they topped 42.5 points in all four games. However, both teams are much different right now than they were in past seasons, mostly due to their packed injured reserve lists.
Mayfield is banged up and the Browns have missed multiple weeks from Hunt and Chubb. The absence of Jack Conklin from the offensive line is huge.
The Ravens have missed their own standout tackle Ronnie Stanley for the majority of the season. Journeymen Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray have shown they are past the prime of their NFL careers.
It’s going to be an ugly football game. To boot, forecasts call for steady 10+ mph winds and temperatures in the 30s. Not the worst football weather we’ve seen in Cleveland in recent years, but it’s certainly not like sunny Los Angeles.
I think the Browns contain the Ravens and put up enough points to win the game, but it won’t be much.
Dane Galloway’s 2021 Betting Record: -9.21u, +1.87 in Week 13