There’s no such thing as too early when it comes to shopping for NFL betting lines. The Baltimore Ravens opened as 12-point home favorites against the Cleveland Browns well before they were even finished playing Sunday night.
Full credit to the folks at
Bwin for posting the first NFL odds for Thursday night’s matchup (8:20 p.m. ET,
NFLN) a full week ago. The same 12 points were still available as the final
seconds ticked away on Sunday’s game between the Ravens and the New England
Patriots, which the Ravens (–2.5 at home) won 31-30 in a thriller. Intrepid
bettors could also get the Browns at +600 on the moneyline; the total opened at
40.5 points and stayed there all week.
The Ravens (2-1 SU and ATS)
may have beaten the Patriots, but they didn’t beat the spread. That’s their
first missed payday of the season; the Browns (0-3 SU, 1-1-1 ATS), meanwhile,
suffered their first ATS loss in Sunday’s 24-14 final against the Buffalo Bills
That was a disappointing
performance for Cleveland fans, and not just because I picked the Browns +125.
Brandon Weeden was doing a reasonable job at quarterback, up until the last
five minutes as he threw a pair of picks trying to rally the Browns. But RB
Trent Richardson was held to 27 yards on 12 carries as the Bills front seven
racked up eight tackles for a loss. Score one for Mario Williams (four tackles,
Cleveland’s cause wasn’t
helped when WR Mohamed Massaquoi strained a hammy in the second half. Massaquoi
was Weeden’s top target in the first two weeks, grabbing eight catches on 15
looks for 131 yards. This was a welcome development for Browns fans after
Massaquoi struggled through his first three years in the NFL.
We’re waiting for further word
on Massaquoi’s status – he didn’t return to the field against the Bills, so
keep an eye on our injuries list for more info as it becomes available.
It was a rough one Sunday
night at M&T Bank Stadium, but it looks like Baltimore got through it
relatively unscathed. WR Torrey Smith deserves extra praise for his play after
his younger brother Tevin died in a motorcycle accident Sunday morning. Smith
caught two touchdowns for the Ravens, the second with just over four minutes
remaining to bring Baltimore within two points.
No payday for Ravens
supporters Sunday night, but their comeback victory was encouraging
nonetheless. The offense once again showed its new-found balance with QB Joe
Flacco (117.1 passer rating) throwing three TD passes and RB Ray Rice rumbling
for 101 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and a major.
The trick for NFL handicappers
this week will be to evaluate Baltimore’s defense. Sunday’s game was marred by
24 penalties, including 14 by the Ravens for 135 yards, as players on both
sides were manhandling each other in front of the overmatched replacement
officials. Thursday’s matchup should be much less contentious. There isn’t much
of a Ravens-Browns rivalry, even though the original Browns franchise packed up
the moving vans and shuffled off to Baltimore in 1996.
It’s very early, but I’ll
stick my neck out and take the Ravens and the points. Tune in again tomorrow as
I look at the total for Thursday’s matchup, and then share my NFL picks on the spread as well later in the week..
Free NFL Pick: Ravens –12