Monday Night Football Betting Preview: Odds, trends, picks for Ravens-Browns
In what should be a fantastic NFC North rivalry game, the Browns (9-3) take on the Ravens (6-5) at FirstEnergy Stadium on Monday Night Football. Despite having an inferior record, Baltimore is currently favored -3 (-170), and the over/under sits at 45.5 total points.
This is the kind of game that all NFL fans hope to see on prime-time television each week. Tensions will be as high as the playoff implications surrounding this matchup. Cleveland is now only two games out of first place in the division, thanks to a superb stretch that has produced its second four-game winning streak of the year.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have faced adversity since getting knocked out of their first playoff game as the No. 1 seed last season. However, they just won a huge Tuesday night game over the Cowboys last week and nearly beat the Steelers one week earlier despite having nearly all of their key offensive skill players out due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
As always, you can visit BetQL.com 24/7 for all updated lines, odds, spreads, and expert picks for this and every NFL game of the 2020 season. We can tell you right now that the BetQL NFL Best Bet Model slightly prefers the OVER on the 45.5-point total for this one, but its pick against the spread and on the moneyline might surprise you. For now, keep reading to see BetQL’s full betting preview and predictions for this crucial Monday Night showdown of NFC North foes.
Ravens-Browns Betting Preview
Football fans remember the Ravens breaking all sorts of offensive records and finishing 14-2 last season. Baltimore remembers, as well, and it probably wishes it could go back to that pre-pandemic glory. For John Harbaugh’s squad, the 2020 season has been mired with obstacles, setbacks, injuries, COVID scares, and a huge statistical regression for 2019 MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. If not for Don Martindale’s superb defense, this squad might be three games below .500.
Jackson has been a shell of his 2019 self. He can’t seem to read through his progressions well, and when he does, he often has trouble locating his receivers on deep balls. Before last week’s big win over Dallas, Jackson had been largely unable to break contain for big runs, which he did so plentifully last season.
Of course, the aforementioned setbacks have not helped anything. Mark Ingram, who had such a phenomenal 2019 campaign, has missed a handful of games to injury, and Gus Edwards didn’t do much in his stead. Stud tight end Mark Andrews, one of the top red-zone threats in all of football last season, has missed multiple games due to COVID-19 and only has 38 catches on the season (although he does have six TDs). Willie Snead and Marquise “Hollywood” Brown have struggled mightily.
One bright spot for Baltimore’s offense has been rookie JK Dobbins. Look for offensive coordinator Greg Roman to continue riding the Ohio State product this week, as he has rushed a combined 26 times for 141 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. He also looks like a prime candidate to open up the field with some screen passes, which would help buy Jackson some time and space.
The Ravens have to figure out how to execute better offensively. Martindale’s defense deserves better than what Harbaugh and Roman have put out there this season. Baltimore ranks third in defensive scoring, eighth in total yards allowed, and sixth in both passing and rushing TDs surrendered. It has also ranked third in third-down defense and fourth in fourth-down defense, but the offense ranks 24th in total yards and 31st in passing yards. Something’s got to give, or the Lamar Jackson era of greatness might end up as a one-and-done, serving as a tragic tale for future mobile quarterbacks.
For the past couple years, the question with former Heisman Award Winner and 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield has been whether he can lead an NFL team to the playoffs. It sure seems like that question has been answered this season.
Mayfield has been just what the run-heavy Browns need: An above-average game manager with toughness and poise. He won’t dominate a week with 400 passing yards or five TDs, but he will do what it takes to help Cleveland get the win. His numbers are less Patrick Mahomes,and more Ben Roethlisberger.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski will gladly settle for a Big Ben archetype. Mayfield has 21 TDs, a career-low seven interceptions, and 2.1 percent interception rate, and he’s taken just 17 sacks. He has succeeded despite a handful of injuries to his most skilled offensive players. Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a midseason ACL tear. Leading running back Nick Chubb missed four games due to an MCL sprain, and tight end Austin Hooper missed multiple games after an emergency appendectomy. During a stretch with basically Kareem Hunt, Rashard Higgins, and Jarvis Landry as Mayfield’s main men, Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt’s boys still got it done nearly every week.
Chubb is now back and better than ever, rejoining Kareem Hunt on the throne as the best running back tandem in the NFL. The Browns are currently in the midst of their second four-game winning streak of the season, and they’ve beaten two tough teams in Tennessee and Houston in the process. They have a turnover margin of plus-seven and the seventh-best red-zone touchdown percentage (70). Chubb has looked like a top-three back, averaging 116 rushing yards per game since his Week 10 return. He’s also scored three TDs and caught all four targets for 58 yards in that span.
If Joe Woods’ defense can return to its early-season form, this team looks like an AFC contender. But it can’t be surrendering 35 points and 458 total yards to the Titans, never mind 25 points and 459 yards to the Mike Glennon-led Jaguars. Now that defensive end Myles Garrett has returned from his bout with COVID-19, he needs to harness his earlier-season self and play like the Defensive Player of the Year the Dawg Pound knows he can be.
Everyone plays better when Garrett plays great, from linebacker and leading tackler B.J. Goodson to Cleveland’s young secondary featuring Denzel Ward, Terrance Mitchell, Ronnie Harrison, and Karl Joseph. Ward will unfortunately be sidelined with a calf injury for tonight’s game, news that likely has Hollywood Brown doing backflips.
Mayfield, Chubb, and Hunt have proved their worth as legitimate winners in this division. They need their defensive unit to mirror that success on the other side of the ball, or Stefanski’s squad will be nothing more than a good regular-season story.
The Browns have arguably outperformed their abilities this season, while the Ravens have drastically underperformed. And when healthy, Baltimore can pretty closely match Cleveland’s No. 1 skill, its running game. On the contrary, Cleveland cannot even come close to matching Baltimore’s elite defense, especially with top defensive back Denzel Ward out.
The Ravens have a few injuries of their own to contend with, but on the whole, they are as healthy as they have been in a while. And despite a litany of challenges this season, this team knows how to win away from home, with a 3-1 straight-up record as road favorites. I think they pull off their second-consecutive victory and make the NFC North even tighter than it already has been.
The BetQL NFL Best Bet Model agrees, listing Baltimore as a four-star bet against the spread -3 and a top-confidence five-star moneyline bet -170. The Model also puts three stars on the OVER (22.5) hitting at halftime, and two stars on the OVER (45.5) for the game, projecting a total of 46 points on the dot. I’m thinking the scoring will be even higher, with Baltimore winning 28-24 in a game that gets people chattering about the 2019 MVP once again.
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