Ravens-Browns Betting Preview: Bet on Cleveland as a Home Underdog?
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baker Mayfield
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
- Spread: Ravens -3
- Over/Under: 45.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: The Browns are receiving only 25% of bets!? What a shocking development.
In all seriousness, most folks are on the Ravens (see live data here), but the Browns have been getting enough support of the sharp variety to hold onto +3.
They might need another push of support, though, as the juice on the Ravens has gradually moved from -105 to -116 since opening. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: This will be the 16th consecutive game that the Browns have been underdogs against a division opponent. In the previous 15, Cleveland went 0-14-1 straight up and 4-11 against the spread. — John Ewing
Joe Flacco is 17-2 SU and 12-6-1 ATS against the Browns — his most profitable opponent (+6.2 units). But buyer beware if you plan on backing Flacco and the Ravens in the first half: Flacco is 9-9-1 against the first-half spread when facing the Browns, with a negative ATS differential. — Evan Abrams
Did you know? December 13, 2015 was the last time the Browns were favored to win a game on a Sunday (-2.5). That was also Cleveland’s last SU win on a Sunday (24-10).
That was 1,030 days ago.
The Browns started Johnny Manziel that day against San Francisco and Blaine Gabbert. — Abrams
Metrics that matter: These two teams rank Nos. 1 and 2 in pace (plays per second), which might ultimately keep me off the under. — Stuckey
Matchup to watch: Ravens running game
The Ravens have gotten off to a fantastic start in 2018 … no thanks to their running game.
The Ravens are tied with the Bucs in the NFL basement with a minuscule 3.1 yards per rush attempt. Don’t expect that to change against a Cleveland defense that finished second in yards allowed per rush (3.4) last season. If the Ravens can’t establish a running game, that means the passing game will have to carry them on the road in potential bad weather against a defensive front that can get after the immobile Flacco.
Don’t expect many points from the Ravens against an underrated Browns defense. Do expect to see a lot of Justin Tucker made field goals. — Stuckey
Biggest mismatch: Ravens vs. Browns special teams
This special teams matchup might be the biggest mismatch on the board in Week 5. When all is said and done, the Ravens could very well end up with the league’s top special teams unit. They have potentially the best kicker in NFL history in Tucker and a superb punter in Sam Koch.
The unit does everything generally well under the tutelage of head coach and former special teams assistant John Harbaugh.
On the other end of the spectrum you will find the Browns, who have done nothing right on special teams in 2018. From already cutting their kicker to abysmal returns and coverage units, Cleveland has looked lost under new special teams coordinator Amos Jones. But that shouldn’t be surprising: Jones led some of the worst special teams units in the league in Arizona over the past five years.
How bad has the Browns special teams been? They not only rank 32nd in Football Outsiders’ special teams DVOA, they currently have the worst rating of any team since 2000. And guess who is back on the depth chart for return duty this week? Jabrill Peppers, who has looked absolutely lost as a return man. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Browns
The Ravens will welcome back stud cornerback Jimmy Smith from suspension, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be joined by fellow starting corner Brandon Carr (knee).
Baltimore’s offense is tentatively expected to have both tight end Hayden Hurst (foot) and running back Alex Collins (knee), but the defense might have to make do without defensive tackle Willie Henry (hernia) and pass rusher Tim Williams (hamstring).
The Browns lost cornerback Terrance Mitchell (arm) for the season, but are otherwise healthy — aside from linebacker James Burgess (knee). Receivers Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway have knee injuries, but neither is reported to be serious.
DFS edge: The Ravens are only $2,800 on DraftKings and lead the way in FantasyLabs’ Ceiling Projections to go with their slate-best 3.4 projected sack total. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield took on a Raiders defense that lacks a pass rush in Week 4, but now he’ll draw a Ravens defense that grades as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 pass-rushing unit.
The Ravens are one of the best values on DraftKings with a +1.24 Projected Plus/Minus. — Justin Bailey
Bet to watch: Browns +3
Yes, I’m a die-hard Ravens fan. Yes, I had season tickets for years. Yes, I go to their road game in Cleveland every season — and will be there again this Sunday. And, yes, I am betting the Browns +3.
That doesn’t mean I won’t be rooting for the Ravens (preferably by one or two points), but you have to separate your betting decisions from your fandom. Easier said than done, but doable.
The Ravens have looked great, especially on defense, but they beat up on the Bills in their home opener, had a war against a bad Broncos team and got revenge over their division rival and a severely overrated Steelers club. The three opponents the Ravens have defeated this year have one win each. (And don’t forget about the waxing they suffered in Cincinnati.)
While I don’t think the Browns will deliver a similar type of beating that the Bengals did, I think they can actually beat this Ravens team — something they have rarely done at home. (Trust me, I see it live every year.)
Baltimore’s rushing attack looks off and has no explosiveness this season, which means the onus will be on Flacco and the passing game. And I think the Browns corners match up well with the Ravens receivers. (Denzel Ward is the real deal, people.)
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens secondary is legit and I don’t see Mayfield making too many plays in the passing game. However, the Ravens can be run on up the gut, and the Browns have a stable of backs who can exploit this potential primary weakness of the Baltimore defense.
In a game in which two teams should struggle to move the ball consistently, I trust the Browns running game more, plus the legs of Mayfield are much more equipped to deal with the inevitable pressure the Ravens will bring, while Flacco will be a sitting duck for Myles Garrett & Co.
The Ravens will have a significant coaching edge and an enormous special teams edge, which would have kept me off +1. But with the move to +3, I have to grab the points here and fade my Ravens in a bad spot in their second straight road game after an emotional win over the Steelers. Classic sell high spot, as the Ravens aren’t as good as they’ve looked.
Go Ravens … by 1 or 2! — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.