Monday Night Football Picks And Predictions: Ravens At Browns

Welcome to the Monday Night Football betting breakdown, where each week I’ll provide a detailed betting overview of the upcoming Monday Night Football game utilizing moneyline, points spread and projected total odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook. I’ll also highlight at least one player- or game-based prop each week that I feel has profit potential.

The 2020 Week 14 MNF showcase features an interconference showdown between the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The most recent game between the teams unfolded in Week 1 of this season, a 38-6 win for the Ravens in which Lamar Jackson racked up a season-high 275 yards and three touchdowns while Baltimore limited Baker Mayfield to 189 passing yards, intercepted him once and sacked him twice.

Each team checks into this divisional clash off a win. The Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak with a 34-17 victory over the Cowboys on Tuesday night to remain on the outer edges of the AFC playoff picture. Meanwhile, the Browns continued to excel in head coach Kevin Stefanski’s debut season, boosting their record to 9-3 with by notching a 41-35 road win over the Titans.

All betting takes will be classified as a “pick” or “lean”, with considerations such as relevant injuries, past betting trends and recent performances of each team leading up to the game factoring in.

For more detailed information on this week’s matchup – including further game analysis, betting trends breakdown, betting tips specific to MNF, and a synopsis of the history of the line movement for the game, please see our Monday Night Football Betting Preview over at TheLines.

Moneyline

As alluded to earlier, Jackson has yet to be able to duplicate the success he found against the Browns back in Week 1, one which also led to big games for Mark Andrews (two TDs), Marquise Brown (5-101) and Willie Snead (4-64-1). With Cleveland’s secondary still struggling three months later, it’s possible John Harbaugh opts to tilt a little more than usual towards the pass in this matchup, although whether Jackson can effectively carry out such an approach has at least some element of doubt.

At least on paper, the situation does set up well for a Ravens air attack that should get Andrews back from the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Browns are allowing 256.9 passing yards per game overall, including 271.0 over the last three. And, even Cleveland’s elite 198.8 passing yards per contest and miniscule 5.4 yards per attempt surrendered at home is a bit of a mirage. Those numbers are partly the byproduct of the Browns having played two extremely high-wind games against the Raiders and Texans in which Derek Carr and Deshaun Watson combined for just 274 passing yards. They then faced the inexplicably inept and now demoted Carson Wentz in a rain-soaked affair.

Part of the reason Cleveland is tied for the fifth-most pass attempts faced (454) is also because of how stingy their defense has been against the run. The Browns give up the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game (104.3), along with the 11th-fewest RB yards per carry (4.06). They also are one of the best teams in the NFL at preventing big chunk plays on the ground, surrendering the third-fewest open-field yards per rush (0.36). This sets up a particularly interesting dilemma for Harbaugh, considering his team runs the ball at an NFL-high clip of 54.95 percent on the road.

Then, a suddenly red-hot Mayfield that boasts a 71.2 percent completion rate, a 6:0 TD:INT and 9.5 yards per attempt over the last two games will face an aggressive Baltimore defense which allows a modest 220.8 passing yards per game and the third-lowest average yards per attempt (5.7) on the road. Mayfield has a spotty track record versus Ravens coordinator Wink Martindale’s secondaries as well – the 2018 first overall pick has thrown seven interceptions over five career games against Baltimore, with Martindale’s tenure at his position coinciding exactly with Mayfield’s time as a pro.

The Browns have nearly as much of a preference for leaning on the run as the Ravens. Cleveland carries the highest rush play rate (56.83 percent) of any team on its home field. Nick Chubb, who’s largely proven matchup-proof, and Kareem Hunt combined for an impressive 133 rushing yards on 23 carries back in the Week 1 loss as well. However, Baltimore has given up a modest 111.6 rushing yards per contest and 4.06 adjusted line yards per carry. Additionally, the recent returns of Brandon Williams and Calais Campbell from ankle and calf injuries, respectively, as well as COVID-19-related sabbaticals, significantly fortify the first line of defense versus the ground game.

This shapes up as a likely old-school, hard-fought battle between division opponents facing each other for the second time during the season, which can always be a tougher matchup for teams that know each other extremely well. Ultimately, I see Baltimore having sufficient success through the air and utilizing its defensive aggression to force Mayfield into enough errors for a very close and critical road win.

The Pick: Ravens moneyline (-130 or better)

MNF Point Spread

The Ravens are 6-6 against the spread this season, including 3-3 as a road team and 3-1 (75.0 percent) in division matchups.

The Browns are 5-7 (41.7 percent) against the spread this season, including 3-3 as a home team and 0-4 in AFC North matchups

In accordance with my pick of the Ravens emerging victorious in a close game, I’m in the camp of that win coming by at least a field goal. Baltimore’s average net road margin of victory of 6.0 points also supports the notion of this prognosis.

The Lean: Ravens -2 or better

MNF Over/Under Total

The Over is 5-7 (41.7 percent) in Baltimore’s games this season, including 2-4 (33.3 percent) in its road games and 1-3 (33.3 percent) in its division matchups.

Then, the Over is 7-5 (58.3 percent) in Cleveland’s games this season, including 3-3 in its games as a home team and 2-2 against AFC North opponents.

With this the second game between two heavily run-leaning division opponents and the Ravens defense part of the equation, I can see where a projected total that was as low as 44.5 at midweek falls short of what is now 47.0 points. The pedestrian track record of the Over in each team’s divisional clashes also strengthens the case for the Under, as does the usual passing limitations of both Jackson and Mayfield.

The Pick: Under 47.0 points or better

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