#NFL Week 14 MNF; Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns; #RavensFlock v #Browns

A good night of football yesterday, mainly for the favourites, especially on the early slate where everyone you’d expect to win, did. The Cardinals humping the Giants was the biggest surprise of the early games, Daniel Jones maybe coming back too early? They just couldn’t get going. Denver winning a game a mild shock too.

The Colts and Titans both won to keep the AFC South interesting, but the biggest shock of the whole day was Jalen putting the Hurts on the Saints with a 3 point win. He ran for 106 yards and threw for 167 and a TD in that victory, with Alshon Jeffery making his 3rd reception of the year for the score. In the grand scheme of things it opens up the #1 seed in the NFC for the Packers to make a run for it, both teams are at 10-3 now with the Saints facing the Chiefs next week while the Packers should win in Carolina.

The Chiefs took a big step towards the bye week in the AFC with a win against the Dolphins while the Steelers became the second team in history to lose week 12 and 13 after starting 11-0 (a very nich̩ stat) РTheir loss against the Bills means the Chiefs now have the tie-breaker and can afford to lose to the Saints (out of conference) next week and still retain the bye week and home field throughout.

(7-5) Ravens -3 @ Browns (9-3): 45.5

As alluded to at the top, a very important game in the the AFC North and the play-off race. The Browns have a realistic chance of winning the AFC North, if they won tonight they’d be 1.5 games down on the Steelers with their second game against them in a couple of weeks, and the easier run-in.

The Steelers have the Bengals (they can finally stop moaning about not having a bye week) next Monday, the Colts and the Browns remaining. – The Browns have Giants, Jets and the Steelers in Week 17. – There’s every chance they lose to the Colts, making that week 17 game vital.

You can get 8/1 for the Browns to win the AFC North if you’re so inclined, it was 14/1 before the Steelers lost last night. If you think the Browns win here, then that’s probably the more sensible bet.

According to 538 who most people apparently use for these things, the Ravens have a 63% chance of making the playoffs, a win tonight takes that up to 88%, and the Browns down to 87%. – A Cleveland win puts them at >99% while it would drop the Ravens to just a 36% chance of the post season. So… it’s important.

These two opened the season with a walk-over 38-6 win for the Ravens, things have changed since then, but the Ravens lead the overall series 32-11, winning 3 of the last 4 and John Harbaugh is 21-4 against them.

Ravens

It’s been a crazy last few weeks for the Ravens after 4 strains of covid rampaged through their facility and messed up a number of fixtures for them, but they bounced back by running all over the Cowboys on Tuesday last week with nearly 300 rushing yards.

The offensive line has taken several hits this year which has visually hurt the team in both the run and the passing game.

It was back to the formula that worked for most of last year, Lamar Jackson with nearly as many rushing yards as passing yards, finishing with 94 and a TD on the ground from 13 attempts and 107 and 2 TDs through the air from 17 attempts. The Browns defense isn’t stellar (ranked 20th according the DVOA) but I doubt they’ll be able to do that tonight, although I’m sure they’ll try to do it.

Lamar hasn’t been great this year, there was always going to be a drop off from his MVP year last season, and the nay-sayers were desperate to jump on him “He’s just an RB” etc… QBR has him ranked 20th with 17 Tds, 7 INTs this year. His rushing ability is what makes the offense move and he’s had over 50 yards on the ground in all bar 2 games this season.

The run game on the whole hasn’t quite hit the same level as last year either but still ranks top 5 in the league. There’s a few mouths to feed there but it seems like JK Dobbins will be getting the main role. He’s had the highest snap count in the backfield in every game since their bye week while Mark Ingram has gone the other way. Gus Edwards seems fairly set in his role, and he’s the most North-to-south runner in the team. The Browns have actually been pretty good against the run this year, only allowing 9 TDs to the position, 2 of them in that first Ravens game.

The passing game… well. There’s not much of it, but Mark Andrews is back from his Covid absence and should have a good game in a nice matchup here. He scored 2 in the first game between these two and it seems to be an area the Browns are weaker against. Marquise Brown has the ability to do it all, but has been hit and miss this year, Willie Snead is probably their most reliable receiver, Devin Duvernay can do bits, Miles Boykin hasn’t really done a whole lot since being drafted, and that’s about it from the wide receivers. Luke Willllllllson is questionable, so that’s probably another option down. Basically it’s going to probably be a lot of targets for Mark Andrews. Relatively a lot. It’s never a LOT, a lot with the Ravens, but he’ll get a large percentage.

They got a few players back on defense last week which helped out, but Calais Campbell didn’t finish the game, and he’s listed as questionable tonight. He’s a big part of their run-stopping so it would be handy if he played. Overall they rank 10th vs the pass and 4th vs the run.

Browns

So, after at least a decade of terrible-ness the Browns have half a chance of winning the division, and all without Odell Beckham who’s missed most of the season. Kevin Stefanski is done a good job concentrating on the run game and keeping things easy for their QB.

They’ve done well this year, but the big games, against the Ravens and Steelers they’ve been absolutely spanked. That needs to change for them to do anything in the post-season.

They smashed the Titans with a first half massacre last week in arguably Baker Mayfield’s best game of his career 25 from 33 for 4 TDs and 334 yards. Most of that coming in the first half off of play-action. Honestly, he’s probably the main worry for me, he’s such a cocky twat that he’ll be thinking he’s the king of football now and I wouldn’t be shocked if he threw multiple INTs tonight looking for big plays. He actually ranks 12th in QBR which surprises me a little, 21 TDs, 7 INTs for him.

The run game is the best in the league, they’ve got the best duo, they’re the only team in the league with 2 RBs over 700 rush yards this season, so it’s safe to say they use them well. Nick Chubb has 800 yards at 6 yards per carry, with over 100 rush yards in 5 of his 8 games. They tend to use them a series at a time, Chubb obviously the main man, but both get a lot of carries, the annoying thing for us is that they tend to switch goal-line work as well making it tough to figure out. There’s usually a big run from one of them in the 4th quarter as the opposing defense breaks down.

The passing game…well it’s been mainly Jarvis Landry recently 8 receptions and a TD in each of their last two games. He’s always been reliable whether here or Miami so it’s no surprise to see him leading the team. Outside of him they’re fairly devoid of talent really. Rashard Higgins always gets a few targets, he had 95 yard and a TD last week. KhaDarel Hodge misses out, he had been WR3, so it could be another game where rookie Donovan People-Jones gets a few touches, he took a long pass to the house last week for his second TD of the season. Derrick Willies. Ha. Willies.

You’d expect Austin Hooper to see a fair bit of work at tight end with fewer WR options, but he hasn’t really been used that way by the Browns. Harrison Bryant had been getting a few targets before missing some games and David Njoku is still there, and he’s the man who scored their TD in the opener vs. the Ravens.

Myles Garrett has 10.5 sacks on the year and is 1 of 3 players to have over 10 sacks in each of the last 3 seasons, he should put pressure on Lamar again tonight, but the Browns are without Denzel Ward again leaving them a little weak in the secondary. He’s been brilliant this year.

Summary

Both teams prefer the run game, so I’d imagine there’s going to be a ton of rushing yards on show tonight. Total rush yards is 304.5 on 365.

The lines on 365…

  • Dobbins 47.5 (59.5 rush and rec.)
  • Edwards 32.5 (37.5 rush and rec.)
  • Ingram 19.5
  • Lamar 58.5
  • Chubb 77.5 (89.5 rush and rec.)
  • Hunt 45.5 (64.5 rush and rec.)
  • Baker 6.5

I don’t mind the Dobbins or Edwards lines there to be honest.

Both teams to score a rushing TD is even money on Skybet… that seems generous to me, it’s just whether the Browns put up more than 6 points against a good team I guess.

I actually don’t mind Patrick Ricard at 25/1 on PP/Betfair. He’s scored 2 this year, and was half a yard short a couple of weeks ago. He’s actually 4th on the team in redzone targets, although just 4. (Andrews 13, Snead 8, Brown 6)

The Browns have been the better team recently, but they haven’t yet managed to get it together against a proper rival.

If I was forced I’d lean to the Ravens and under, but I won’t take anything on the spread.

  • Both teams to scoring a rushing TD – 2.00 (Skybet)

We’ve got a showdown contest setup on Draftkings for tonight – Ravens vs. Browns – It’s at 5 of 15, will resize if it doesn’t fill.

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