Still desperate for their first win of the 2016 season, the (0-9) Cleveland Browns travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the (4-4) Baltimore Ravens on Thursday night (8.25pm ET on NFLN).
After a tough home win against the (4-4) Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens find themselves back in first place in the AFC North, a place where many early season predictions expected them to be at this point. This win, while critical to Baltimore’s chances of winning the AFC North, also showed the team as one that could challenge in the entire conference come playoff time. It showed that the team may have moved past the one that was recently riding a four game losing streak and looking almost as hapless as the Browns. At 0-9 and as the league’s only remaining winless team, Cleveland is still far and away the worst team in the NFL right now. And frankly, it’s not even all that close.
Unable to ride any of the momentum that the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers and MLB runner-up Cleveland Indians brought to the city recently, the Browns have looked as bad as ever. They have started a record six quarterbacks in the first six games of the season and have failed to find any sort of offensive consistency as a result.
The Browns seem to have found their guy moving forward in Cody Kessler (pictured) and honestly his performance against the (7-1) Dallas Cowboys was not a complete disaster. In fact, it was actually Kessler’s second best game of the season, and thus his career, as he threw for 203 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Terrelle Pryor, one of the other lone bright spots caught five passes for a touchdown, his first in the last three weeks.
Of course Cleveland will need more than Kessler and Pryor to beat the Ravens at home, especially if Baltimore has finally turned a corner past the disappointing losses that have plagued them of late. Mike Wallace is playing some of his best football, the running game is back to a serviceable level and the defense made some major stops against a Steeler offense that features the three headed monster of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. All three were kept to modest totals in Baltimore’s 21-14 win over their biggest divisional rivals.
It is no surprise given the way both teams have played and their records, that the best of the usa online sportsbooks currently put the Ravens a whopping 10-point home favorites in this one. That might seem like a tall mountain to climb but when you look at the fact that the Browns have lost just four games all season by less than double digits, it could be argued that it is a safe bet. However I will save giving away our betting predictions and picks until the conclusion of this preview.
The Last Time We Met AKA the 20 Point Collapse
Cleveland sports history is full of stories like this, whether they be epic collapses or close calls that would make some think the world was actively working against them. After all, you don’t as a city with three pro sports teams, go over 50 years without winning a championship if not for a few unbelievable results.
The Browns’ second game of the season fell into that category. If the team does go winless and joins the 2008 Detroit Lions in that land of infamy, that second game is the one they will circle on their calendar for being a huge wasted opportunity. Cleveland actually looked like they would go 1-1 after dropping the opener to the (4-4) Philadelphia Eagles. Why? Because after the first quarter was over, the Browns led the Ravens 20-0.
Cleveland got on the board furiously thanks to a big day from Corey Coleman, who caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns and running back Isaiah Crowell, who carried just 18 times for 133 yards and a score. Josh McCown, who had started the game after Robert Griffin III went down in the season opener, passed for 260 yards on 20-33. Most teams would tell you, that’s a game you’re supposed to win.
Because they are the Browns and because there is some cosmic force out there that wants them to fail, that didn’t happen. Instead, Cleveland’s defense allowed Joe Flacco to hit Mike Wallace with back to back scores as the Ravens came back from trailing 20 points down. Cleveland did have the ball to end the game but McCown was picked off at the goal line with just 13 seconds left.
It was a devastating loss but one marked even more so now by the fact that Browns have yet to win a single game in 2016. It will no doubt be a monkey pushing down on the team’s back as on a short week and a bad loss to Dallas, they look to turn things around against a team they are just 2-15 against in the John Harbaugh Baltimore coaching tenure.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Browns vs Baltimore Ravens Betting Picks’ Predictions Verdict
When a team is bad, it’s easy to pick against them, but believe it or not when they are winless, it is so much harder. That’s because every inch, every yard, every pass becomes that much more important. Every lead is to be protected, every play to be carefully chosen. No one wants to finish 0-16 and the Browns will be especially cognizant of that on Thursday night.
That being said, we’re talking Baltimore at home. We’re talking a team that looked very, very solid on Sunday against the Steelers. It is a team that probably will benefit a little more than their opponents on the short rest.
The Browns are fighting for their dignity and the Ravens to stay on top. I’d almost say to pick the Browns because of that but the team is winless for a reason and against the Ravens in Baltimore, their chances to pull off the upset are slim.
- However, what this preview will advise for its betting prediction and pick is to take the Browns +10pts on the spread @ best betting odds of -110 with Bovada Sportsbook or 5Dimes. It is -115 with BetOnline. Ten points is lofty considering how things went the last time these two AFC North rivals went head to head.
- As for the total game points that will be scored, I’d bet the under 45pts @ -110 with 5Dimes, Bovada or BetOnline sportsbooks.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.