Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens Odds & Pick: Back Cleveland’s New System in NFL Opener (Sept. 13)
Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Baker Mayfield/
- Updated NFL odds list the Baltimore Ravens are a sizable favorite over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon.
- Baltimore is among the best teams in the NFL, and the second betting choice to win the Super Bowl behind Kansas City.
- Can the Browns cover this big spread on Sunday? Check out Raheem Palmer's model projection and pick below.
Browns vs. Ravens Odds
The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns enter the 2020 season on two different ends of the spectrum. After finishing 14-2 with an MVP season from quarterback Lamar Jackson, the Ravens are primed for a Super Bowl run while the Cleveland Browns finished 6-10 and hope to forget about the Freddie Kitchen era with a bounce-back year from Baker Mayfield.
The reigning AFC North champions now sit as 8-point favorites over the Browns. Can Cleveland keep up with Baltimore’s offense? Or will the Ravens pick up where they left off last season?
With the hiring of Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield will be playing for his fourth head coach in three seasons. I personally value continuity during a season with a shortened training camp, but this as a significant upgrade: Stefanski led one of the best play-action offenses with Kirk Cousins in Minnesota, and that’s exactly what Mayfield excels at.
With the talent on this roster in Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry and new addition Austin Hooper, Stefanski’s system could be the key toward unlocking Mayfield and making Cleveland a top tier offense.
Center JC Tretter has returned to practice after missing all of training camp and is expected to play in Sunday’s matchup (you can track his latest updates in our Week 1 NFL Injury Report). Cleveland has improved the offensive line by signing All-Pro offensive tackle Jack Conklin and drafting tackle Jedrick Wills, which should only improve the rushing attack with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
There’s potential for the Browns to have two 1,000-yard rushers this season, which would go a long way toward taking the pressure off Mayfield and keeping prolific offenses like the Ravens off the field.
Defensively, the Browns have some struggles on the back end with an injury to starting cornerback Greedy Williams. However, their defensive line — one that features Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, Larry Ogunjobi and Sheldon Richardson — can make life difficult for a team that relies on running the ball.
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The Ravens are coming off a dream season. They won 14 games, including 12 straight, leading the league in point differential, points per game and rushing yards per game while finishing third in points allowed and first in Football Outsiders’ overall DVOA.
The dream season ended with a nightmare, though, flaming out in the Divisional Round of the playoffs with a 28-12 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Fortunately for Baltimore, its MVP quarterback is in the third year of his rookie contract, giving it the ability to go all-in on a Super Bowl run. If there was a weakness for the 2019 Ravens, it was their run defense.
Baltimore revamped its front seven by trading for Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell and signing defensive lineman Derek Wolfe. It also drafted inside linebackers Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison. This revamped defense will get its first test against Browns RB Nick Chubb, who rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns during the Browns’ 40-25 victory in Week 4 last year.
Unfortunately, when a team is as good as the 2019 Ravens, it can only get worse — whether that’s through regression or the subtraction of key pieces. For the first time in 13 seasons, the Ravens will be without All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda. They also cut Earl Thomas for conduct detrimental to the team. Although the Ravens have the talent to survive these losses, it’s hard to believe their absence won’t have any impact.
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What goes up must come down. The Ravens are coming off a year in which they went 14-2 straight up, 10-6 against the spread (ATS), won 12 games in a row and didn’t face any adversity until the playoffs.
That changes this season.
The Ravens are a Super Bowl contender that should be feared, but coming off last year’s historically great season, I’d be leery of laying almost double-digits with them against a divisional opponent. The market has a way of catching up with great teams, and that’s what I see here.
My model makes this number Ravens -7, so there’s some value on the Browns if you can find them at +8 or better.
Although the Browns are installing a new system on both sides of the ball, they were the last team to defeat the Baltimore Ravens in the 2019 regular season. With an upgrade at head coach and a system that gives them an identity, the Browns have a solid shot at making the playoffs.
They may not win this game, but I like them to keep it inside the number.
PICK: Browns +8