Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco
- The Baltimore Ravens are 3-point favorites against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday (1 p.m. ET)
- According to Bet Labs, history is not on Baltimore's side and bettors should be careful wagering on the Ravens.
The Baltimore Ravens are 3-1 and tied for first in the AFC North. Joe Flacco is on pace to throw for 5,000 yards and the offense is averaging 30.8 points per game (5th best in the NFL).
The defense hasn’t conceded a touchdown in the second half this season and ranks No. 3 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
The early results are impressive and this looks like a complete team on paper, but are we sure the Ravens are actually good?
To be precise, should Baltimore be a 3-point road favorite in Cleveland on Sunday (1 p.m. ET)?
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine for the purple and black. The Ravens’ run game has struggled, averaging 3.1 yards per carry.
And while the defense has been excellent, the pass rush has gone missing at times. Baltimore has 10 sacks this season but six came against the Buffalo Bills and the front seven ranks 23rd in adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders.
There is also historical context that bettors should consider before placing a wager on Ravens-Browns. Baltimore missed the playoffs last season and entered 2018 with modest expectations – 40-1 to win the Super Bowl and a win total of 8.5.
The Ravens have jumped out to a fast start but contrarian bettors can gain an edge wagering against teams like Baltimore.
According to Bet Labs, betting against teams that didn’t make the playoffs the previous year but have a winning record and are favored early in the season has gone 253-195-16 (57%) ATS since 2003.
A $100 bettor would have returned +47.72 units of profit following this system.
Four games are in the books, but it doesn’t give bettors much information. The Ravens are a legit playoff team — 66% chance of reaching the postseason according to The Action Network’s model — but historically it has been profitable to fade teams in this spot.
More than 70% of spread tickets (see live odds) are on the Ravens as road favorites. Fade the public and Baltimore by taking Cleveland plus the points.
The Browns aren’t the only match for this system in Week 5..
- Miami Dolphins (+5.5) at Cincinnati Bengals (1 p.m. ET)
- Detroit Lions (+1) vs. Green Bay Packers (1 p.m. ET)
- Cleveland Browns (+3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET)