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Week 12 NFL Monday Night Football: Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens +4.5 (105) @ Cleveland Browns

FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

November 30, 2015, 5:30PM PST

We are siding with the road dogs here, largely on the basis of our power rankings work. This component of our system expects the Ravens to win outright by about a point. While we are not so emboldened as to take Baltimore on the moneyline, we are comfortable siding with the Ravens to cover what we deem a generous +4.5 line.

Cleveland has owned the head-to-head series in recent years. Since 2010, the Browns are 7-4 against the spread facing the Ravens, including winning the last four versus the number. However, Cleveland backers received points in each of those meetings. Tonight, Browns supporters must lay 4.5. From the unfamiliar position of favorite, the Browns are 1-2 ATS against Baltimore since 2002. Of further note, the road team is 9-2-1 against the spread in the Browns/Ravens series.

In aggregate, Cleveland is 4-6 against the betting line this season, including four consecutive losses. And the Browns' have covered just once this season as the favorite (way back in week 2, versus the Titans). However, at 1-9, Baltimore is even worse versus the spread (though the Ravens flubbed against the closing line of -3.0 last week, we got -2.5 versus the Rams, which resulted in a cover on our books). Prior to tonight though, the Ravens have only been underdogs once this season. This evening's game represents an easier nut for Baltimore to crack given the 4.5 point cushion.

Both teams will start backup QBs, as Joe Flacco is out with a knee injury, while Johnny Manziel's off the field antics have resigned him to third-string status.

Bettors are lining up with Cleveland, as indicated by SportsInsights report that 57% of the spread wagers on their radar have flowed the Browns direction. We think the public's Cleveland-crush this week is at least somewhat motivated by backup Brown's quarterback, Josh McCown's, success against these same Ravens in week 5 (McCown set a franchise record, completing 36 of 51 attempts for 457 yards in thrilling 33-30 victory).

We believe McCown played beyond himself that day and are anticipating that the 13th year pro will fall well short of his week 5 heroics tonight--although McCown might have to try to shoulder an inordinate amount of the offensive load, as the Brown's ground game is 31st in the NFL.

Along this line, the Ravens lost RB Justin Forsett last week due to a broken arm. As such, Baltimore's 11th ranked rushing offense is likewise diminished. Fortunately for rookie Buck Allen, who will likely be filling in for Forsett, the Browns defense of the running game is bottom of the barrel (29th in the league, to be precise). Thus, while the aerial attack is more of a toss-up given that both teams will feature replacement players at the QB position, we give the advantage to Baltimore on the ground. That might be enough to secure the cover tonight.

Bottom line: We exepct Schaub and Allen (and company) to demonstrate versatility with the ball sufficient to get the better of the one-dimensional Cleveland offense.

Take the points and back the Ravens.

Happy betting!!

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