Ravens vs Browns Odds, Picks: Bet Saturday’s AFC North Underdog

Ravens vs Browns Odds, Picks: Bet Saturday’s AFC North Underdog article feature image

Ravens vs Browns Odds

Saturday, Dec. 17
4:30 p.m. ET
NFL Network
Ravens Odds
-110o / -110u
Browns Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via Caesars. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Cleveland may have Deshaun Watson back after an 11-game suspension, but the offense hasn't looked in-sync in the 120 minutes of football he's played. Now they'll face their most difficult defensive test since Watson's return with a home game against Tyler Huntley and Baltimore.

Huntley will make his second consecutive start in place of the injured Lamar Jackson, who went out with an injury in the Ravens' 10-9 win over the Broncos two weeks ago. The Ravens were one of the unluckiest teams in the NFL with Jackson, as they were the only squad to lead by 10 in every game over the first 10 weeks.

But since Huntley has taken over, the Ravens have pulled out two games despite mediocre underlying numbers, something they hadn't done all season. With Baltimore's defense getting healthy and the run game potentially able to exploit a bad Cleveland defense, this profiles as yet another toss-up game.

Given the low total and the divisional rivalry nature, Baltimore's defense and run game is the side to play, as long as you can get the key number of three.

Ravens vs Browns Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Ravens and Browns match up statistically:

Ravens vs Browns DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA627
Pass DVOA1120
Rush DVOA230
Overall DVOA88
Pass DVOA1210
Rush DVOA87

The Huntley-led Ravens offense wasn't great against Pittsburgh last week, but it was still functional. Because of their similar styles and Huntley's mobility, the Baltimore's offensive schemes don't fall apart just because Jackson is out.

Baltimore is second in the NFL in both rushing success rate and EPA per rush — and it's not just Jackson creating on scrambles that accounts for their ground game.

Bet Baltimore vs Cleveland at FanDuel

The Ravens are third on early downs, too, proving how sustainable this group is.  Cleveland's run defense has had major issues all season long. When it faced Atlanta, the Falcons' complex run scheme was able to bully them easily.

Cleveland actually did well stopping the run in the last meeting between these two teams. But for the season, the Browns are 29th in rushing success rate allowed on early downs — they are 31st overall.

Baltimore can run into trouble if Huntley is forced into obvious passing downs against Cleveland's pass rush. Given the limitations on the Ravens' receiving group, Huntley isn't as good of a passer or scrambler as Jackson and the offense won't be able to keep the chains moving.  But the run game on early downs should keep them in positive down and distance scripts.

On the other side, it's really hard to run on Baltimore. The Ravens are getting healthier on defense and have a top-eight run defense. Cleveland's run game hasn't been nearly as dominant in the last month, either.

Everyone knows how good Nick Chubb can be, but the Browns are just 24th in rushing success rate and efficiency since Week 10. The offense is more reliant on quarterback play than it was earlier in the season. That's why Jacoby Brissett struggled and part of why Watson hasn't been good in his two games. The Browns have just one offensive touchdown against the Texans and Bengals since Watson returned.

There are 46 quarterbacks who have been in at least 70 plays this season, per rbsdm.com. Watson is 36th in EPA + CPOE efficiency. Watson used to be one of the most accurate throwers, but a year and a half away has clearly affected his play.

Watson could shake off the rust at anytime, but until then, he's not a marked improvement over Brissett, who was actually 14th in QB efficiency.

Betting Picks

The market seems to think Cleveland is better with Watson back. And while that may have been true in 2020 or '21, Watson hasn't proven anything since returning from suspension. He's been inefficient and that won't be enough to overcome the Ravens' ground advantages on both sides.

Huntley has proven himself as one of the more capable and experienced backups in the league. The market is combining a Ravens downgrade with Jackson and a Browns "upgrade" with Watson to get to a number that makes Cleveland a three-point favorite.

These two teams are, in my view, even given the quarterback matchup. There's not much offense expected in this game, which places more emphasis on special teams to factor in.

As is tradition, Baltimore has one of the best special teams units in the league. Everyone knows Justin Tucker, but Baltimore is first in special teams by DVOA while Cleveland is 16th.

Baltimore has the better defense, a comparable offense given the quarterbacks and the better special teams. You can factor in two points for home field in Cleveland and I'll still take Baltimore catching the field goal in a low-scoring game.

The Pick: Ravens +3 | Bet to +3

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