NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Browns-Ravens, Saints-Jets, Cowboys-WFT Among Expert’s Best Spreads & Total Bets
Rob Carr/Getty Images. Pictured: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens pitches the ball while being hit by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Cleveland Browns
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- Find our staff's favorite bets for Sunday's early afternoon games, featuring the Browns-Ravens spread and Saints-Jets over/under.
Ravens at Browns
Stuckey: As a Ravens fan who will be in Cleveland for the game, I had to bet the Browns here. The situation is just too good with the Browns coming off of a bye and the Ravens playing their second straight road divisional game after a hard fought battle with the Steelers last week. More importantly, the Browns have basically been able to prep for Baltimore for the past three weeks, having played the Ravens in their last game before the bye.
This is also a Browns team that desperately needed a bye week after 12 straight weeks of dealing with bumps and bruises. We should see the healthiest version of this team since the season opener. Baker Mayfield in particular needed a week off to rest and heal — maybe more than any other player in the NFL.
This game is also basically for the Browns’ season, so expect to see an all-out effort in front of a raucous crowd against their division rival.
The Ravens will now also have to make do without star cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who suffered a season-ending injury last week. Baltimore is now down three of its four original starting defensive backs and dealing with injuries elsewhere in the back. Even head coach John Harbaugh said the reason he went for two last week at the end of the game was they were pretty much out of corners. Humphrey also allows the defense to have much more flexibility in terms of blitz aggressiveness.
I also believe the Ravens are just a bit overrated in the market due to an 8-4 record that includes a lot of smoke and mirrors. Prior to last week, the Ravens had won six straight one-possession games, including two in overtime and a number of late comebacks. They actually became just the third team in the past 35 years to have five fourth-quarter comebacks in their first 10 games.
Baltimore also continues to trend in the wrong direction on both sides of the ball. Just take a look at these numbers since Week 6:
- Offense: 22nd in EPA per play, 26th in drop back EPA per play
- Defense: 26th in EPA per play. 28th in drop back EPA per play
The countless injuries just might be finally catching up to Baltimore. Keep in mind the Ravens will also likely be without starting right tackle Patrick Mekari, who also got injured last week. The options behind him are not ideal, which is a scary proposition against the Browns edge rush.
I also expect some likely regression coming on offense and defense for both teams that could work in Cleveland’s favor.
The Ravens rank No. 1 in the NFL in third-down defense. Meanwhile, the Browns rank 26th. Yet the Browns rank second in success rate and 12th in EPA per play on early downs, while the Ravens rank 10th and 28th, respectively. The Ravens defense also ranks first in red-zone defense, while the Browns rank 27th. Plus, the Browns are getting healthier while the Ravens certainly are not.
Even if we take a look at fourth-down offense, the Ravens lead the NFL at a 70% conversion rate compared to the Browns’ 43% (26th).
Lastly, I’m just not sure if Lamar Jackson is fully healthy. Since Week 7, only Trevor Lawrence and Tyrod Taylor have been worse in EPA + CPOE composite among 34 quarterbacks with at least 100 snaps. And if he is fully healthy, something is clearly off with the offense.
This is too good of a spot to pass up here with the Browns laying under a field goal at home. I would bet Cleveland at anything under -3 here.
Falcons at Panthers
Chris Raybon: How do you not bet the under in this game? The Panthers will be starting a quarterback who spent the first half of the season on the street and went five for 21 in his last game. They’re coming off a bye in which they fired their offensive coordinator because he didn’t run the ball enough for head coach Matt Rhule, whose target amount of rushing attempts per game is 33.
Both offenses are ranked bottom-three in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, with Carolina clocking in at 30th and the Falcons at 31st. The first time these two teams met, they played a 19-13 game in which Matt Ryan was held to 131 net passing yards with more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one) — and that all came indoors in Atlanta, where Ryan in his career has averaged nearly a half-yard more per attempt and 13% fewer interceptions than on the road.
Historically, it has been profitable to bet divisional unders late in the year due to familiarity. This has been especially true in the early window, with the under going 227-142-8 (62%) in divisional games in the 1 p.m. ET time slot from Week 10 on (excluding Week 17) since 2003, per our Action Labs data.
When those games are played outdoors, the record improves to 159-92-6 (63%).
I’d bet this to 41.
Saints at Jets
Sean Koerner: I locked in the under for this matchup at 43.5 earlier in the week once the Saints hinted that Taysom Hill was going to remain the team’s starter, despite playing through an injured middle finger on his throwing hand.
I’m expecting them to have a very run-heavy game plan and lean on their defense to get a win over the Jets. Their defense should have no trouble slowing down Zach Wilson, who will be without his top two wide receivers in Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, who have been placed on injured reserve.
I’m projecting this closer to 40.5 and would bet it down to 42.
Cowboys at Washington
Brandon Anderson: Washington has won four games in a row and become that proverbial team no one wants to face. The Football Team controls its destiny now at 6-6 with all five remaining games in the division, including two against these Cowboys. Dallas is coming off a rough, up-and-down stint, and suddenly it looks like the NFC East might be a real race.
Looks can be deceiving, though.
Washington survived in the final minute of two 17-15 wins the last two weeks, getting a little lucky both times. The Football Team beat a bad Carolina offense the week before, again in a one-score game. The win over Tampa was good, but does winning three coin-flip games over mediocre teams really tell us much?
At Football Outsiders, Weighted DVOA adjusts its team rankings to put more stock in recent performances. By Weighted DVOA, Washington’s ranking actually drops from 21st for the season to 22nd.
Sports can be painfully binary, with only wins and losses mattering, but Washington hasn’t magically become a good team overnight. Taylor Heinicke is playing really well, but the offense is littered with injuries especially on the line and the pass defense has been terrible all season, with both star pass rushers Chase Young and Montez Sweat out for the season.
Dallas has indeed struggled in recent weeks, with their Weighted DVOA at No. 11 vs. No. 7 for the full season, but for good reason!
If you look at the last six games where Dallas’s metrics have plummeted, what do you see? Dak Prescott missed Week 8, then needed time to work his way back to health; stud left tackle Tyron Smith missed Weeks 9, 10 and 11; finally, CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper were effectively out Weeks 11 and 12.
It turns out when you take all the best parts out of a top-five offense, it struggles!
The parts are all healthy now, though, and I think we’re getting a gift on this line that would’ve been over a touchdown a month ago. Prescott is 19-8 ATS in his career in division games, covering 70% of the time with a 2-0 record this year. Road division games are always tough, but Dallas is the much better team.
I was able to grab this at Cowboys -4, but would play it to -5.5.