Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns
Date and Time: Sunday, September 18, 2016, 1 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
Week 2 NFL Odds at BookMaker.eu: Ravens -7, O/U 43
Ravens vs. Browns TV Coverage: CBS
When they have a full complement of players the Ravens can be pretty good. The injury mess that wrecked last season has been mentioned and talked about, but that was last season. Baltimore is looking ahead to a new season and so far John Harbaugh likes what he sees. A number of key regulars were back in the lineup for the opener after having their 2015 seasons cut short. The offense is happy to have Joe Flacco, Justin Forsett, Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta back, while Terrell Suggs is back on defense. Even better news for Harbaugh, they all escaped injury-free from their Week 1 matchup with Buffalo.
Turns out it’s a good thing the Browns didn’t pull the trigger on a deal with the Cowboys for Josh McCown. With Robert Griffin III suffering a broken bone in his shoulder, Cleveland will turn to the veteran signal-caller to take over. The move isn’t all that bad for the Brownies, who might be better off on offense now with McCown at the controls. Griffin worked hard during camp and the preseason to win the No. 1 job, but he clearly isn’t the same player he was when he burst onto the scene as the second overall pick with Washington back in 2012.
McCown is one of only two Browns QBs to beat the Ravens over the past eight years and Cleveland is just 2-14 SU and 6-10 ATS against Baltimore in that span. The Browns ended an 11-game losing streak with a win in 2013 and McCown led them to win in Baltimore last season.
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The Browns won only three games last season so it’s pretty hard to forget them. Perhaps the biggest win of the season and the most memorable was their Week 5 upset of the Ravens in Baltimore. McCown started eight games last season and went just 1-7 in those contests. But the one was a really big one. The Ravens hadn’t been hit with the injury stick just yet and were playing with a full roster, which is one reason why they were a 6-point favorite. But it was McCown and the Browns on this day that did the damage.
McCown threw for a career-high and team record 457 yards by completing 36 of 51 passes. He tossed a pair of scoring passes and also ran for a touchdown. The win also helped end years of frustration for the Browns in Baltimore. Cleveland had lost seven straight games at MT Bank Stadium. McCown was also the starter when the teams met in Week 12 and he had another strong game with 212 yards and a touchdown pass before getting knocked out in the second half with a collarbone injury. It was the last game he would play in 2015 and many thought the 38-year-old would hang up the cleats. But he came back for another go and the Browns are thankful he’s on their side.
At his advanced age, McCown obviously isn’t the long-term answer and the health of RG3 is an even bigger concern. The position has been a black hole in Cleveland since the team resurfaced in 1999 with 25 different starters over that time. McCown won’t count twice on that list, but he’s been the best quarterback in the system since coming to Cleveland prior to last season.
Ravens vs. Browns Free Picks
That black cloud hanging over the Browns franchise got darker following news that RG3 could possibly miss the entire season with a broken bone in his shoulder. The release of that injury didn’t affect the line as the Ravens are -7. The switch in quarterbacks may end up being a good thing for the Browns, who showed signs of life on offense last year with McCown running the show. They didn’t win many games, but at least he kept the Browns in most of them.
The Ravens won’t allow McCown to pick them apart like he did last season and the defense is coming off a game where it thoroughly bottled up the Bills. Baltimore held Buffalo to 160 yards of offense and stymied a young, athletic Tyrod Taylor. McCown is old and slow the Ravens defense is healthy. So is their offense, which makes them my pick on the odds at BookMaker.eu.
Ravens vs. Browns Week 2 ATS Pick: Ravens -7 at BookMaker.eu
Ravens vs. Browns Score Prediction: Ravens 28, Browns 20