Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
When: 9/13 @ 1pm ET
Point Spread: Ravens – 7.5
Moneyline: Browns +300 | Ravens -385
Browns Key Injuries: Greedy Williams, CB, Shoulder (Q), JC Tretter, C, Knee (Q), Mack Wilson, LB, Knee (D), Kevin Johnson, CB, Liver (Q)
Ravens Key Injuries: Chris Moore, WR, Finger (D), Justice Hill, RB, Thigh (Q), Justin Madubuike, DT, Leg (Q)
The Browns are coming off a disappointing 6-10 season full of disfunction. Despite having one of the league’s most talented rosters, the Browns were just never able to put it all together. One of their wins, though, was a 40-25 throttling against this Baltimore team. If the Ravens have a weakness, it’s their rush defense. The 2019 Browns struggled to find an identity, but that should change this year with the hiring of run-heavy head coach Kevin Stefanski. This offseason, the Browns drafted left tackle Jedrick Wills in the first round and added right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency, bolstering the protection for Baker Mayfield who was constantly under pressure in 2019. The loss of middle linebacker Joe Schobert will hurt, especially when it comes to containing Lamar Jackson. If the Browns are going to win this game, they will need to get out to an early lead and force Lamar Jackson to play from behind. Receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry will also have to win their individual matchups against the Ravens’ elite corners to keep this defense honest.
After a 2-2 start to the 2019 season, the Ravens rattled off 12 straight wins on their road to the top seed in the AFC. The culprit? Lamar Jackson’s meteoric rise to superstardom, as the 2019 MVP silenced all the doubters by throwing 36 touchdowns and six interceptions. Unfortunately, the season came to a bitter end in the Divisional Round at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans beat the Ravens by pounding the rock with Derrick Henry and forcing Jackson to beat them with his arm. The question that fans want answered this season is whether that game was a fluke or whether the Titans found the blueprint to stop this high octane Baltimore offense. This Browns team shares a lot in common with the 2019 Titans so perhaps we will get our answers here in this week 1 matchup. Notable losses for Ravens include safety Earl Thomas, nose tackle Michael Pierce, and linebacker Patrick Onwuasor. They replaced Pierce with former Jaguar Calais Campbell and drafted Patrick Queen in the first round as an upgrade over Onwuasor. The team hopes Chuck Clark is able to fill the big shoes left by Thomas. Look for the Ravens to try and get out to an early lead and force Mayfield into obvious passing situations. This game could very well be decided by whichever team gets out to the early lead.