Baltimore Ravens (9-4) at Cleveland Browns (5-8)
Last week, the Ravens played their first full game without injured quarterback Lamar Jackson and I liked their chances to pull the small upset in Pittsburgh without Jackson, as the rest of this team was significantly healthier than earlier in the season, which was being overlooked because of all of the attention being paid to Jackson’s injury. Top receiving threat Mark Andrews, top running back Gus Edwards, stud left tackle Ronnie Stanley, talented defensive lineman Calais Campbell, starting edge defenders Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser, talented safeties Kyle Hamilton and Marcus Williams, and starting cornerback Marcus Peters have all missed time for the Ravens with injury thus far this season, but all of them played last week and will continue to play this week.
The Ravens did pull the upset in Pittsburgh last week, but they didn’t play as well as I expected, needing a +3 turnover margin to win by two, which is not predictive week-to-week, and losing both the first down rate battle (+9.67%) and yards per play battle (+1.04) by significant amounts, which are much more predictive week-to-week. With that in mind, I am less confident in the Ravens this week in Cleveland, even though they are still relatively healthy around the quarterback. In fact, I am going to take the Browns for pick ‘em purposes at -2.5 because they are at home and they are the slightly better team, so the most likely outcome of this game is the Browns winning by exactly a field goal, which would cover this spread. There’s not nearly enough here to be confident in the Browns though and, if this line was three, I would probably change my pick to the Ravens.
Update: I made some tweaks to my numbers a little bit and I like the Ravens in this game now, especially since the line has moved to +3 in some places. This is still not worth betting, but I like the Ravens a decent amount at +3, with Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson yet to get going since returning from suspension.
Cleveland Browns 24 Baltimore Ravens 23
Pick against the spread: Baltimore +3