Cleveland Browns (0-9 SU, 2-7 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS)
Week 10 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, November 10, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
TV: NFL Network
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CLE +10/BAL -10
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The Cleveland Browns come to MT&T Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football. This AFC North battle features the 4-4 Ravens against the 0-9 Browns. Baltimore scored a big 21-14 home win over the Steelers on Sunday, a win that gives them some momentum moving forward with some hope in the wide-open AFC North division. At home on Thursday, they have a good chance to peek above the .500 mark facing the winless Browns. Some of us felt the Browns could maybe cover the big number against Dallas at home on Sunday, but no such luck, as the Browns were squashed 35-10. They are a loser on the field and at the betting windows this season. Maybe being back in their division will serve them well this week, but the silver lining in Cleveland is getting harder and harder to find.
As division rivals, these teams have already played this season, with Baltimore emerging a 25-20 winner in week two of the season. The Browns did what they have sometimes done this season, which is show flashes of good play, but with the inability to sustain it. After just ten minutes of the first quarter, it was 20-0 Cleveland. Isaiah Crowell was running wild, while Josh McCown was spraying the ball around to different playmakers like Corey Coleman, Terrelle Pryor, Gary Barnidge, and Duke Johnson. But as quickly as Cleveland struck with venom, that's how quickly they receded back into their bunny-hole. Joe Flacco began connecting with his playmakers in the air, hitting Dennis Pitta, Steve Smith, Sr., and Mike Wallace, as Baltimore worked itself back into the game. Cleveland couldn't hit the scoreboard again and the Ravens took over and crossed the finish line ahead.
Lately, Cleveland isn't even getting those spurts. They have had some close games this season, including the narrow loss to Baltimore in week two, along with an overtime loss at Miami, a two-point loss at the Titans, and a three-point loss to the Jets. Other than that, there is not much to be happy about at this point for Cleveland backers. On Sunday, they gave up 3 TD passes to Dallas QB Dak Prescott, also allowing two rushing scores by Ezekiel Elliott. The nod went to rookie Cody Kessler, who threw for 203 yards and a TD. Dallas had the ball twice as long as Cleveland, who was just not able to establish any offensive continuity in the run or aerially.
Robert Griffin III., injured in the first game of the season, is technically able to return to action, according to the injury report. We'll see what direction they turn in for week ten. Kessler hasn't been very good, McCown is still an option, and we'll see if RG3 is ready to get back into action. At the end of the day, none of it has worked. The defense hasn't been a lot better—the 30th ranked group in the league. They can barely make a dent against the opposing run game and are allowing an average of over 30 points per game. But again, when a team is 0-9, a lot of the aforementioned is naturally going to be the case.
Baltimore got off to a good start this season with 3 straight wins. But then they lost four in row, which sent their season totally sideways. To their credit, they were all close scores. That's something that's been typical over the past few seasons, where almost all of their defeats have been tightly-played games. That shows they are in the mix with a shot to win no matter who the opponent, while also showcasing a lack of being able to win the close ones. Against the Steelers, it wasn't all that close, with Baltimore leading 21-0 in the fourth quarter before two late Pittsburgh touchdowns.
The Steelers' offense may not have been in prime shape to thrive this week, as Ben Roethlisberger was rushed back into action. Still, the Baltimore "D" held a potentially-explosive Steelers offense to very little until late. Star back Le'Veon Bell was held to 32 yards on 14 carries. And while we haven't seen it all the time this season, there have been occasions when opposing offenses really labor against the Baltimore defense. They can rush the passer, stuff the run, and keep quarterbacks from getting on too much of a roll. Some may be surprised to learn the Ravens have a top-five total defense.
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Flacco was able to keep the offense moving against Pittsburgh to some extent. On a run late in the game, he slid very awkwardly, with Ryan Mallett having to come in briefly for relief. Mike Wallace, again a viable target, was big against the Steelers with 124 yards and a 95-yard TD catch. His play has given Baltimore a viable down-field threat, something they've lacked for the past few seasons. It's a hit-and-miss offense that's been mostly pedestrian this season, but when the defense does its thing, they look a bit better.
The Browns have not been getting the numbers they need to cover spreads. They can be plucky, dangerous, and even scrappy in the right spots. Even within an 0-9 framework, they are pretty erratic, spanning from competitive to laughingstock status. Trying to time it is a dangerous game to play. This is a big game for Baltimore, a fork-in-the-road type of game for the Ravens. But there's something not appealing to them as a double-digit favorite. I'm taking the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cleveland Browns plus ten points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Browns vs. Ravens game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!