(10-4, 7-6-1 ATS)
(5-9, 5-9 ATS)
The old Cleveland Browns meet the new Cleveland Browns at the Dawg Pound on Sunday afternoon, and you can bet that NFL betting fans are going to love sink their teeth into this one, as the Baltimore Ravens come back to their old stomping grounds for their annual visit.
After watching the Pittsburgh Steelers win on Thursday Night Football, Baltimore knows that this is a do or die game for its hopes to win the AFC North. The Ravens clinch a playoff berth with a win and shift the pressure back on Pittsburgh to win in Week 17 to lock down the No. 2 seed in the postseason. This team has been frightening all season long, and as long as it is in the tournament, it has a chance to win the whole shebang. QB Joe Flacco is leading an offense that is averaging 23.1 points per game this year, which should be more than enough for one of the most feared defenses in football. Of late though, this ‘D’ looks thin and weary, and it seems like there is just one more good punch coming after allowing 52 points over the course of the last two weeks, more points than the team allowed in its first three and a half games combined. RB Ray Rice became a 1,000 yard back last week, as he now has 1,054 yards for the year on the ground, and don’t be surprised if he ends up well over 1,700 yards between rushing and receiving on the year.
The ball is in the hands of QB Colt McCoy for the rest of the year for the Browns, and Head Coach Eric Mangini is making the right decision. McCoy has been the best of his three quarterbacks this year, and if there is a man that can lead them to the playoffs in the years to come, McCoy is it. The rookie from the University of Texas was never supposed to be in this spot when he was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft, but he has performed admirably in his brief time as a starter, throwing for 1,218 yards and five TDs. Prorated over a 16 game season, McCoy would have very respectable numbers, as he would have 3,248 yards, 13 TDs, and eight picks. However, the key to success in this one is going to be getting the ball into the hands of RB Peyton Hillis. Not only is Hillis a power back, but he has great hands out of the backfield as well. The former Denver Bronco leads the team in receptions with 59, and he is second in receiving yards with 469. Hillis also has 1,129 yards on the ground with 11 scores.
Don’t fall into the trap! Don’t do it! Baltimore has played two very tough games in a row, and though this is a physical team that can do a lot of damage, Cleveland has already played it tough once this year. The Browns have the ability to win this game, and knowing that this is their entire season, don’t be shocked if they’re the team that delivers that KO blow to the Ravens chances of winning the AFC North.
Pro Football Free Pick: Cleveland Browns +3.5