The NFL’s Saturday slate of games consists of a tripleheader. In the second game, the Baltimore Ravens will try to inch closer to a playoff berth when they face the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Baltimore (9-4) used defense and a strong running game to win on the road last week, 16-14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Lamar Jackson out indefinitely because of a sprained MCL, quarterback Tyler Huntley managed the game well and let running backs J.K. Dobbins (15 carries, 120 yards, TD) and Gus Edwards (13 carries, 66 yards) do most of the heavy lifting.
However, Huntley left the game in the third quarter with concussion symptoms forcing Anthony Brown to close things out.
Cleveland (5-8) saw its slim playoff hopes likely evaporate in a 23-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last week. Quarterback Deshaun Watson threw his first touchdown pass in nearly two years, but the running game couldn’t get going with Nick Chubb going for just 34 years.
Caesars Sportsbook lists the Browns as a three-point favorite with a low over/under of 38.5.
Analysis: Baltimore has a 61% chance of winning according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, despite being a betting underdog. The line has stayed fairly consistent, but the point total has fluctuated up and down several times.
The health of Huntley is a big deal here. He returned to practice in a limited role on Tuesday. If he is listed as active, this line might move in Baltimore’s direction. While Huntley isn’t Jackson, he has shown flashes of talent at times and can occasionally create an explosive play.
Cleveland has to get back to its identity of running the football. Watson is still very rusty — he hadn’t played in nearly two years — and throwing the ball 40-50 times with him doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.
The Ravens are going to test the Browns’ run defense. Joe Mixon averaged almost 7 yards per carry against Cleveland last week, so expect a full helping of Dobbins and Edwards for Baltimore in another defensive struggle.