If there was ever a reason to go to bed early on a Monday night, it’s a game between the 3-7 Baltimore Ravens and 2-8 Cleveland Browns. Both teams are jockeying for position…at the bottom of the AFC South. Both teams have several reasons why the 2015 is all but lost at this point in the season, and despite facing the Browns, the Ravens somehow find themselves +3 underdogs.
Monday Night Football: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Point Spread: Browns -3 Over/under: 41 Date: Monday, November 30, 8:30pm ET Location:FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
It’s beginning to look like a cursed year for the underdog Ravens, who first saw their leading receiver Steve Smith tear his Achilles tendon, then saw their leading rusher Justin Forsett break his arm only to watch as their $20 million quarterback tore both his ACL and MCL in the final minutes of last week’s game. Matt Schaub, who has lost two starting roles prior to joining the Ravens, will take Flacco’s place and faces a Brown’s defense that is giving up an average of 27 points per game. Don’t expect Schaub to work miracles. Instead, expect a heavy dose of second leading rusher Javorious Allen.
The Raven’s defense has struggled due to injuries of their own. Without Terrell Suggs, Baltimore finds themselves in the bottom half of the league in overall defense. They’ll face a Cleveland offense who just demoted Johnny Manziel for more party antics in favor of Josh McCown, who is throwing an interception for every two touchdowns he manages. Without much of a run game to speak of, the Ravens can focus squarely on making McCown uncomfortable in the pocket.
It’s hard to win games when you’re giving up an average of over 400 total yards per game, but the Ravens won’t quite pack the same punch without their three best offensive players. The Browns, who the point spread is favoring at -3, have fared well against the pass, ranking 12th in the league when on throwing downs and could find success against Schaub, who’s had limited playing time the last few seasons. They’ll need to worry more about Allen as they are ranked dead last in the league, giving up 138 yards rushing per game.
While McCown offers the Browns a less athletic and banged up option at quarterback, McCown has been more consistent and less of a PR headache than Manziel. With little to work with in terms of a running game, the offense has been forced to pass a total of 382 times in comparison to just 226 rushing attempts. Finding a bit more balance on offense would go a long way to softening up the Ravens defense.
Monday Night Football Prediction
The betting odds are giving the Browns a -3 favor which has to be in due part to playing in Cleveland, Without big names like Suggs, Smith, Forsett and Flacco missing from the line up, it’s easy to paint them as the underdog, but Schaub might just be good enough to get the Ravens their fourth win of the year.