(455) Cleveland vs. Baltimore (456) 1:00 PM | Sun, Sep 13 2020
Sport: NFL | Star Rating: 8.0 Evaluation: Win (800) - Final Score CLE 6 at BAL 38
|-8 BAL (-110) @ Draftkings|
My 8* NFL Week 1 Las Vegas Insider is on the Bal Ravens at 1:00 ET.
The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens will be forever be linked in NFL history. Cleveland owner Art Modell announced he was relocating the Browns to Baltimore and after negotiations and legal battles, an agreement was reached where Modell would be allowed to take his personnel to Baltimore as an expansion franchise (Ravens) but would leave Cleveland the Browns' colors, logos and heritage for a reactivated Browns franchise that would take the field no later than 1999. The Browns were reactivated in 1999 but the Browns have produced just TWO winning seasons in these last 21 years, with ONE postseason appearance (2002). Meanwhile, the Ravens were able to post their first winning season in 2000 (team's fifth year), capping the season by winning Super Bowl XXXV. John Harbaugh was given his first-ever NFL head coaching job in 2008 and led the Ravens to the postseason in each of his first five seasons. The number five was again 'magic,' as Baltimore won its second Super Bowl in the 2012 season (SB XLVII).
The Browns open the 2020 season with a new head coach, as Freddie Kitchens lasted just ONE season. Kevin Stefanski signed a five-year contract to become the 18th head coach of the Cleveland Browns on January 13, 2020 (was Minnesota's OC in 2019 and this marks his first head coaching job). As for the Ravens, Harbaugh is still around, entering his 13th season as Baltimore's head coach.
QB Baker Mayfield had a promising rookie season in 2018 (27/14 TD-to INT ratio and 93.7 QB rating) and Cleveland's 2019 season looking promising. However, Mayfield was awful through the season's first eight games, throwing just seven TD passes with 12 INTs as the Browns went 2-6. They did win FOUR of their next five games (Mayfield had an 8-4 ratio) but the Browns lost their final three games to finish 6-10 (it didn't help that the Cleveland D allowed 34.0 PPG in those final three games). As for Mayfield, he ended his 'sophomore' season with 22 TDs, 21 INTs and a 77.8 QB rating (far off his 'freshman' numbers!).
Baltimore was just 2-2 through the first four games of the 2019 season but the Ravens would win their final 12 games, covering NINE of their last 10. QB Lamar Jackson was league MVP, posting a 113.3 QB rating (36-6 ratio) while rushing for 1,206 yards (6.9 YPA / 7 TDs), which set a single-record for QBs. Baltimore set a single season record for team rushing yards and became the first team since at least 1950 to average 200-plus pass YPG (201.6) and 200-plus rush YPG (206) in the same season. The D was not quite in the class of the Ray Lewis era units but the Ravens ranked 3rd in points allowed (17.6 PPG) and 4th in yards allowed (300.6 YPG).
The Ravens were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs last season, losing 28-12 at home to the Titans as 10-point favorites. Jackson passed for 365 yards (59 attempts!) and ran for 143 yards but his three TOs (two INTs) was the 'story' of the game (along with Tennessee RB Henry shredding the Baltimore D for 195 rushing yards). I expect the Ravens to be highly motivated in Week 1 and the Ravens should also well-remember that the Browns won here in Baltimore 40-25 (as 7.5-point dogs) in Week 4 of the 2019 season. That was Baltimore's LAST loss of the regular season, as the Ravens won their final 12 games, including a Week 16 rematch in Cleveland by the score of 31-15 (as 9.5-point favorites). DO NOT ignore the fact that the Browns last won a Week 1 game back in 2004, losing 13 in a row before playing a 21-21 tie in 2018, but then resuming their losing ways with a 43-13 home loss in Week 1 of 2019 against the Titans. Lay the points!
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