The Baltimore Ravens are heading to Cleveland, the franchise’s former home city, for a matchup with the division-rival Browns this Sunday (10/1/23). Get Ravens vs. Browns odds, predictions and picks below as our best bet is under 40.5 points.
Ravens vs Browns Prediction & Best Bet
It’s hard to find any teams that have had as much of an up-and-down route to a 2-1 record as these bitter rivals have each endured. The Browns started the season out in magnificent fashion by dominating another division rival, the Cincinnati Bengals, holding Joe Burrow under 100 yards and the team to just a field goal of offensive output. They then lost to their biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, in a fluke debacle that included 26 points for the Steelers despite just nine first downs for their offense, due in large part to horrendous turnovers from Deshaun Watson.
That game was also the one where Nick Chubb suffered another ugly season-ending knee injury. They bounced back with another defensive masterpiece in a 27-3 win over the Tennessee Titans, and their new approach without Chubb will face its stiffest test yet by hosting these Ravens, another serious threat in the AFC. Baltimore also won big on opening day as they ran by the rebuilding Texans, but at great injury cost as multiple key pieces on both sides of the ball went down seemingly instantly. They too were able to beat the Bengals the next week, but suffered a surprise loss to the Indianapolis Colts in week three, as the offense seriously sputtered down the stretch, especially in overtime.
As is so often the case in the “black and blue” AFC North, this game has all the makings of a classic defensive battle. The Ravens have long been characterized as a defense-first squad, even when they’ve fielded some of the more elite offenses of the recent era, including the dynamic attack we saw in Lamar Jackson’s MVP season. Conversely, the Browns’ defense has often been considered a liability, but those days feel like the distant past as the Cleveland defense is considered by many to be the best in the league, as through three games, they’ve allowed a total of one touchdown on a George Pickens breakaway, and three field goals.
We’re not going to play the spread here, as it’s unwise to bet against this kind of defense at home, but Watson’s play to start his first full season as the Browns starter leaves all sorts of question marks. He could be shaking off the rust after a long time off the field, but it’s hard to believe that he’s just a game away from being back to the elite quarterback he was in Houston, so let’s fade him, as well as the Ravens offense, which has definitely struggled to adapt after the loss of Dobbins. Some of the injured players will be back this week, but could be off to a slow start, so let’s play the under in what should be a highly entertaining and physical clash.
Ravens vs Browns Prediction & Best Bet: Under 40.5 (-110)
Ravens vs Browns Betting Odds
BAL @ CLE
Oct. 01, 12:00 PM
Odds updated October 1st, 2023, at 2:57 pm
Vegas rightfully sees this one as being a close, low-scoring matchup, with the Browns set as 3-point home favorites, and the total set at 40.5, with odds of -110 on either side of both numbers.
Ravens vs Browns Key Injuries
The Ravens have been the most-injured team so far in this young season, but o-linemen Tyler Linderbaum and Ronnie Stanley might be coming back, and the same can be said for safety Marcus Williams while top back J.K. Dobbins is surely done for the year. The Browns are also without their top back with superstar Nick Chubb out until next season, and stud tackle Jack Conklin is also on season-ending IR.
Ravens vs. Browns Key Matchups
With two ground-based offenses going up against a pair of tough defenses, let’s take a look at how some key positional matchups could play out in this rivalry game.
Ravens Offensive Line vs. Browns Front Seven
As solid as the Browns defense has been, the secondary hasn’t been elite, so if the Ravens o-line can give Jackson a chance against the fearsome defensive front, he and the solid stable of Baltimore pass catchers might have a chance. That being said, it’s going to be a tall task to stand up to this particular group, especially while re-integrating Stanley and Linderbaum as they work back to 100% after their respective injuries.
Myles Garrett is of course the anchor of this defense, with 4.5 sacks and a pass rush win rate of 32.5%. Za’Darius Smith has been strong off the other edge, especially in run defense, an area in which linebackers Anthony Walker Jr. and Sione Takitaki have also been major contributors. With a deep and talented group in the first and second levels of the defense, the Browns have every ability to slow down the electrifying Jackson behind a less-than-healthy o-line.
Browns Pass Catchers vs. Ravens Secondary
Watson has had a tough start to the year, but it’s fair to say that his pass catchers could be making his job a bit easier; PFF has them ranked 25th in the league as a group. Amari Cooper has been pretty solid, but it’s a pretty steep drop-off after him, with Elijah Moore as the only other real downfield contributor as David Njoku has disappointed once again.
Unfortunately, they’ll be going up against PFF’s third-favorite secondary, which is a major reason I have the under in my Ravens vs. Browns prediction. Marcus Williams is likely to return and contribute in some capacity, but Geno Stone has been great at safety regardless, as has Kyle Hamilton. The corners have been a bit softer, but linebacker duo Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen have done some awesome work taking away the low middle.