The Cleveland Browns descend on the Baltimore Ravens for an AFC North showdown on Sunday Night Football. As things currently stand in the division, the field is wide open. The Ravens are sitting pretty at the top of the field with a 7-3 record while the Browns prop up the table with a 6-5 record. With the degree of separation so tight, the outcome of this game is sure to have far-reaching consequences.
As per the sportsbooks, Baltimore opened as the -3.5 home favorites. However, bettors are leaning more towards the Browns as the road underdogs in this game according to consensus betting reports. This raises the question: Does the market or the public have it right.
Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, November 28, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium
Browns Bounce Back
Baker Mayfield and the Browns bounced back into the win column in Week 11 behind a 13-10 win over the Detroit Lions. It was a dull, boring, uninspiring game but a win nonetheless – albeit the Browns failed to deliver as the whopping 13.5-point favorites in online point-spread betting markets.
Mayfield didn’t have a particularly good game as he tossed two interceptions while going 15 of 29 for 176 yards and one touchdown. Then again, Mayfield’s season is nothing to write home about either. He’s thrown merely 10 touchdowns to six interceptions while passing for just 2,166 yards in ten starts.
Overall, Mayfield ranks 22nd amongst quarterbacks based on passing yards, and a 91.3 passer rating.
A lot of Mayfield’s struggles last Sunday, along with the Browns’ failures on the offensive side of the ball, had to do with the Lions’ defense, which put in a Herculean effort in an attempt to clinch their first win of the season.
Star running back Nick Chubb, as per usual, proved to be the deciding factor, gashing the Lions’ defense for 130 yards on 22 carries. And had it not been for his grit and determination, the Browns might have ended up on the losing end of the slugfest.
Mayfield’s off-color season is partly down to the slew of injuries he’s suffered – or still suffering. The fact remains, though, that the Cleveland quarterback is desperate to prove his worth to the Browns organization in order to get Mahomes-kind-of-money as his rookie contract approaches its final year.
What he’s accomplished is hardly going to get the checkbook out, and that will only add pressure on him and the Browns to come through with the upset in this AFC North battle on Sunday night.
Ravens Bounce Back
The Ravens edged the Chicago Bears 16-13 in Week 11, rebounding from a disastrous showing in Miami the week before. Lamar Jackson was ruled out just before the game due to illness (unrelated to Covid), but the Ravens persevered without their star quarterback. But only just.
It was a tightly contested game with the Ravens on the backfoot late. Tyler Huntley, in his NFL debut, had an up and down performance. After Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields suffered a rib injury in the third quarter, which paved the way for Andy Dalton’s return, the momentum shifted towards Chicago.
The veteran quarterback got the Bears’ offense going as led a touchdown scoring drive to lift Chicago to the 13-9 lead with just 1:41 to play. With the game on the line so, Huntley surprisingly came through in the end. He made some clutch plays to set off Devonta Freeman for a touchdown run that lifted the Ravens to victory in the dying minutes of the game.
In winning, the Ravens maintained their advantage over the rest of the AFC North. As well, thanks to Buffalo’s shocking loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 11, the Ravens soared to No.2 in the AFC standings.
NFL Picks and Predictions
Both Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson are bound to feel the weight of expectation ahead of this divisional battle, but the latter might have the advantage in clutch games. He’s been in more situations like this, and, importantly, he’s shown that he can carry the team on his back. Mayfield, unfortunately, has crumbled under the weight of pressure more often than not.
Clearly, the oddsmakers and the public agree on one thing – which is that this game is going to be close. Otherwise, the betting wouldn’t be split down the middle in point spread betting markets.
But what if it isn’t so close?
The Browns have had a hit-and-miss season. Indeed, since the Browns lost to the Chargers, they’ve won only three of their last seven games and twice suffered blowout losses – a 37-14 loss to Arizona Cardinals and 45-7 loss to the New England Patriots. However, they’ve also served up 41-17 beatdown of the Cincinnati Bengals a few weeks ago.
The Ravens have been a hit-and-miss too, but on a few occasions, they’ve genuinely lit up. The Ravens took it to the Chargers earlier this season and decimated them in a 34-6 win at M&T Bank Stadium. That was exactly a week after the Chargers and Browns went toe-to-toe in a 47-42 shootout.
This game may well turn into a lopsided affair. If that’s the case, the money has to be on the Ravens. Jackson will be well-rested and raring to go after missing last week’s game while Mayfield may still be too banged up to keep up if this game turns into a shootout.
Plus, the Ravens will be at home for this primetime showdown. The Ravens know only too well the significance of this game towards their overriding ambitions, and they’ll be motivated to stay ahead in the AFC race if not close the gap on the top seed Titans.
NFL Pick: Ravens -3.5 (-110) at Bet365