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Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns,
12-17-2017 - Prediction & Preview

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Game Snapshot with Current Line

#321 Baltimore
Ravens
#322 Cleveland
Browns

Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 1:00pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

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Baltimore Ravens (7-6 SU, 7-5-1 ATS, 8-5 O/U) at Cleveland Browns (0-13 SU, 3-10 ATS, 6-7 O/U)

Baltimore is in a must-win situation after losing a tough one at Pittsburgh on Sunday night, 39-38. If they win out, they’ll have one of the wild card spots in the AFC. Cleveland blew a late two-touchdown late in the fourth quarter against Green Bay, only to fall in overtime, 27-21 at home. These teams met on Sept. 17 from Baltimore with the Ravens winning 24-10.

Ravens can’t cover without Smith

Cornerback Jimmy Smith blew out his Achilles’ tendon during the Ravens’ 44-20 win over Detroit on Dec. 3. Smith had been playing at a Pro Bowl form before the injury. Without Smith, Baltimore gave up 486 passing yards in their loss to the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger completed 44 passes on 66 attempts and targeted Antonio Brown 18 times. Most of those targets came against Brandon Carr as the All-Pro wideout caught passes for 213 yards.

Baltimore led this game by 11 in the third quarter and nine with 6:44 left. But they gave up a Le’Veon Bell 11-yard touchdown run with 3:29 left to cut the lead to 38-36. The offense went three-and-out on the next possession and Roethlisberger to take them down the field to set up a 46-yard field goal from Chris Boswell. Included in that drive was a 34-yard pass to Brown along the sidelines that set up the game-winning field goal.

The Ravens’ offense was very good led by running back Alex Collins, who had 120 yards rushing and a touchdown. Buck Allen also rushed for two touchdowns for Baltimore. Joe Flacco completed 20 of 35 for 269 yards with two TDs and one pick.

Despite the loss, the Ravens’ defense has been pretty good. They rank 14th with 329.2 yards allowed per game, including 108.5 yards per game on the ground. They average just 298.1 yards per game (27th) and 179.8 passing yards (30th).

Browns are getting better

The return of Josh Gordon certainly helped the statement above. For all of Gordon’s off-the-field issues, nobody denies the talent of the 26-year old, who is 6-3, 225. In two games, he already has seven catches for 154 yards. Cleveland was running on all cylinders last Sunday and it appeared that they were finally going to get that first win against the Packers. Quarterback DeShone Kizer gave the team a 21-7 lead on three touchdown passes to Gordon, Duke Johns and Corey Coleman. But the wheels came off the car in the fourth quarter, when Brett Hundley led the Packers back, including a 1-yard TD pass to Davante Adams with 17 seconds left in the game. In overtime, the Browns couldn’t tackle Adams, who took a pass from Hundley and evaded defenders for a 25-yard touchdown to win the game.

It was a devastating loss for the Browns, who just fired GM Sashi Brown and hired John Dorsey, while keeping coach Hue Jackson. Kizer  has improved (214 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs against Packers), but is probably not the quarterback of the future. The rookie from Notre Dame is completing 53.9 percent of his passes for 2,252 yards with nine TDs and 17 picks (61.2 QB rating). Running back Isaiah Crowell has had a solid season with 716 yards with two TDs (4.1ypc) and 23 catches for 190 yards. Rookie DE Myles Garrett has played in just eight games due to injuries, but has managed five sacks.

On the season, the Browns are averaging 311.4 yards per game (23rd), 203.2 passing yards (23rd) and 108.2 rushing yards (16th). They allow 328.3 yards per game (12th), 96 rushing yards (6th) and 232.3 passing yards (21st).

NFL Trends:

Baltimore is:

  • 11-2 ATS last 13 vs. AFC North.
  • 9-4-2 ATS last 15 after accumulating more than 150 rushing yards in their last game.

Cleveland is:

  • 7-20-1 ATS last 28 vs. AFC.
  • 2-13-1 ATS last 16 vs. AFC North.

The Ravens should be concerned about the loss of Smith, but the lack of pass rush was what cost them against Pittsburgh. With Joe Thomas out, Spencer Drango will have to try and keep Terrell Suggs off of Kizer. The road team in this series is 11-4-1 ATS the last 15.

Pick: Baltimore

Cleveland would love to win this game and take advantage of Smith’s absence. They’ll probably start off well, but ultimately the Ravens are the better team and their offense has caught fire. The Over is 4-0 the last 4 in Cleveland in this series. Baltimore is 7-2 Over their last 9 overall.

Over

4

Benjamin Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 30 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for over 25 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13!

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