Baltimore (7-5) at Cleveland (9-3)
When: Monday, December 14th, 2020
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium,
Time: 8:15 ET | TV: ESPN
Opening Odds: Baltimore -3/45.5
The Cleveland Browns have already clinched their first winning season in 13 years and are steamrolling towards the playoffs. They will look to make it five wins in a row when they host division rival the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football in a game with postseason implications. Baltimore sits two games behind second place Cleveland in the AFC North, but only one game out of a potential playoff spot and are seeking their third straight postseason appearance. The Ravens have had their problems this season, getting off to a 5-1 start before dropping four of their next five games. Baltimore is putting the Covid-19 issues behind them and ran away with a 34-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Tuesday night. Quarterback Lamar Jackson was activated off the COVID-19 list a day before the game and looked strong despite passing for just 107 yards. He rushed for 94 yards as the Ravens dominated the Cowboys with 294 yards on the ground. The Browns improved to 9-3 last week with a 41-35 road win over the Tennessee Titans as 5.5-point underdogs.
Cleveland is hoping for a better result this time around against the Ravens after getting thumped 38-6 in Week 1, as Jackson passed for 275 yards and three touchdowns and added 45 yards on the ground. The Ravens own a 21-4 mark (straight up) over the Browns under Head Coach John Harbaugh and 32-11 overall. The visiting Ravens are 3-point favorites as of Sunday afternoon with a total of 45.5. The Browns are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven overall, while Baltimore has covered each of their last two contests.
Jackson’s medium and long distance accuracy has not improved, and puts the club’s pass ranking dead last with just 169.2 yards a game. Oddly enough, their rushing attack averages almost the exact same yardage (169.0) and is ranked No. 1 in the NFL. Jackson passed for two touchdowns an interception on 12-of-17 completions versus Dallas last week and was 20-of-25 in Week 1 against Cleveland. Jackson can have one of his main weapons back as well, with wide receiver Willie Snead set to return after missing two games. Snead had 64 receiving yards and a touchdown on four catches in Week 1. On defense, Baltimore is 12th in takeaways, tied for 15th in sacks, and eighth overall (337.7). They surrender just 19.2 points a game, which ranks fourth in the league. The Ravens are 6-1 ATS this year when facing a divisional opponent. The Ravens removed star outside linebacker Matthew Judon and tight end Mark Andrews from the Covid list on Wednesday. Cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin), who missed the Dallas game, has a chance at returning on Monday.
The Browns were supposed to use their third-ranked rushing attack to take down the Titans last week, but instead it was the Baker Mayfield show. In one of his best games as a pro, Mayfield passed for 334 yards and four touchdowns on 25-of-33 completions. Mayfield has tossed six TDs in his past two outings, and hasn’t thrown an interception since Oct. 25. Wide receivers Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones had 95 and 92 receiving yards, respectively, and a touchdown apiece. Mayfield will go up against a Baltimore defense that ranks 27th in defensive interception percentage (1.53). The Browns defense is led by Myles Garrett, who is tied for third in the league in sacks (10.5), and will have his hands full with Jackson. Cleveland ranks eighth against the run (104.3), but just 25th versus the pass (256.9). Center JC Tretter and right tackle Jack Conklin were limited in Thursday’s practice due to knee ailments.
I really like the Ravens in this spot. They are getting healthy again and the rushing attack has a lot of momentum. The Ravens crushed this team in Week 1 and even though the Browns have been playing better, I still don’t believe in them.
Pick: Ravens -3
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