Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns (12/22/19): NFL Betting Picks, Lines

Last Week: 5-3
All Time Results: 92-82-2, +12.23 Units

Baltimore Ravens -9.5 @ Cleveland Browns -.25 Unit

Crazy trend popping up the past two seasons in the NFL.  Road favorites of 10 or more are 13-1 ATS since the beginning of 2018, beating the spread on average by almost 11 points per game.  An interesting aspect of this trend is that it brings up road favorites of 10+ covering percentage to 50/50 since 2000.  Before last year, fading big road favorites was easy money.  Not the case recently.

Has something fundamentally changed for big road favorites in the NFL?

Yes & no.  While football fundamentally changes every season to some degree, the rise in scoring has largely leveled off the past couple of seasons and teams have returned to running the ball around 45% of the time, largely in-line with the style of the game 10 years ago.

baltimore ravensTravel does become less arduous year-over-year with technological advancements.  Some iPads you don’t even have to turn off before an airplane takeoff – so that’s an extra few minutes of preparation very week for traveling coaches.  I say that largely tongue in cheek, but seriously who knows what small advantages are gained every year as NFL organizations continue to iterate on their procedures.  If I get the chance, I will ask my cousin, Kyle Shanahan how his job has changed over the years in his early career when I go see the 49ers/Rams games this Saturday in Santa Clara.

Unlike most 10-point road favorites, I could make the argument that the Ravens will be laser-focused on the task of hand.  They have revenge on their minds after suffering a blowout defeat at home back in week 4.

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Nick Chubbs Under 90.5 Rushing Yards – .25 Units

The principal culprit of the Ravens week 4 defeat at home to the Browns: poor rush defense.  The Browns repeatedly lined up in two tight-end sets – 12 and 22 formations – and brutalized the Ravens struggling defense to the tune of 40 points and over 200 rushing yards.

The Ravens defense has battled back incredibly strongly since their early-season troubles.  For several weeks, the Ravens were last in the league in Yards Per Play Allowed, giving up 7 yards a pop.  Today, they’ve risen to 14th in this metric.  In general, they have been one of the best defenses in the league since adding CB Marcus Peters and getting CB Jimmy Smith back from injury.

I think they watch the tape of Week 4 – where Nick Chubb ran wild for 165 yards and 3 Touches – and I think this group is ready to do something about it.  In a season full of paradigm-altering statement games for Baltimore – I think they have another one, correcting one of the phew blemishes on their Super Bowl-bound season.

3-Team Teaser 6.5-Point Teaser (+150): Baltimore Ravens -3 @ Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts -1 vs. Carolina Panthers, Los Angeles Chargers -1 vs. Oakland Raiders -.25 Units

The Ravens have covered a 6-point teaser in their last 10 ball games.  Thanks to Joe Osborne at @OddsShark for that one.  I like them to handle business in this spot and not be swept by a divisional rival.

To fill out the teaser I like the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Carolina Panthers and rookie QB Will Grier in his first career start.  While first-time starters in the NFL this season are 9-2 ATS, most of that has been because of mispricing.  Those debut starters are only 4-6-1 SU.  Although the Saints shut them down last week on MNF, the Colts have had a great running game all season whether or not Marlon Mack their best RB plays.  The Panthers are the worst rush defense in the league according to Football Outsiders.  It may end up being close on the scoreboard, but I love the Colts to win.

The annual Raiders take over of Dignity Park reaches year 3.  In the first two years, the Raiders fans crowding the stadium couldn’t stop the Chargers from asserting their dominance.  The Chargers have many flaws – but they just have way more talent on both sides of the ball than this Raiders team.  Philip Rivers may not be long for this league, but I don’t think he’s had his last NFL win quite yet.

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Born in Chicago, born for Las Vegas, Mackenzie is a graduate of Yale University with a BA in English & Creative Writting. Mackenzie runs AlternativeStats.blog, which seeks to by-pass the minutiae of commonly cited sports statistics and expose the heart of what drives athletic success. After several successful years investing in Las Vegas real estate, Mackenzie is excited to transition in 2019 into betting on sports full time, as well as documenting his thought process as he further learns the craft.

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