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NFL Free Pick: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Prediction Machine NFL Free Pick: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (BAL -8, O/U 48.5)

The Browns will visit reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens this Sunday to begin Kevin Stefanski’s regime in Cleveland. The league’s preeminent rushing attack will await Stefanski in Baltimore, where the Browns enter as one of Week 1’s largest underdogs. The Ravens currently sit as 8-point favorites over the Browns, and John Harbaugh’s squad will look to defend home field after their only regular-season loss in Baltimore came at the hands of these Browns a season ago.

Our model believes the Ravens should have no issues disposing of the division-rival Browns, projecting a final score of 31.7-16.9 in favor of Baltimore. With a projected margin of victory near 15 points and a spread of 8, we have a large edge on the Ravens in this Week 1 matchup. Our model suggests a $125 wager on BALTIMORE -8 for an average $100 bettor.

Prediction Machine’s NFL model was 129-75 ATS (63.2%) for +26.85 units and 117-98 (54.4%) on O/Us for +21.04 units in the 2019-20 season, producing a total profit of $4,789. Head over to predictionmachine.com/pricing and sign up to receive every NFL prediction ahead of Week 1.

Why will Baltimore cover the spread?

  • Baltimore’s rushing attack should dominate a Browns defense that surrendered 5.0 yards per carry last season. Cleveland enters Week 1 without their three leading tacklers from 2019, as Joe Schobert and Damarious Randall departed in free agency and Mack Wilson went down in camp with a knee injury. While the defensive line is a strength for the Browns, the Ravens are masters at reaching the second level of the defense and letting Lamar Jackson and their playmakers go to work in the open field. The Ravens led the NFL with 5.6 yards per rush attempt last season and we’re projecting them to surpass that mark with 6.4 yards per attempt in this matchup.
  • The Ravens were susceptible in their own right to opposing rushing attacks last season, allowing 4.5 yards per carry (10th-most). Unlike Cleveland, Baltimore shored up its run defense by adding veterans Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe and drafting Patrick Queen in the first round. They’ll need their new run-stuffers to perform well against Nick Chubb, the NFL’s second-leading rusher in 2019 who posted a monster performance with 165 rushing yards and three TDs on 20 carries in the Browns’ 45-20 win over Baltimore last year in Week 4.

How to bet the total in Browns vs Ravens:

Prediction Machine’s NFL model projects a final score of 31.7-16.9 in favor of the Ravens. With 48.6 projected points and an OVER/UNDER of 48.5, we have no suggested wager on the total in this one.

Need-to-know stats for Browns vs Ravens:

  • 218.5 Team Rushing Yards (BAL) It’s no secret that Baltimore wields the NFL’s most lethal rushing attack entering the 2020 season, but a projection north of 200 yards warrants a deeper look. Baltimore led the NFL with 204.8 rushing yards per game last season and now adds J.K. Dobbins to the fold. We’re projecting 34 rushing attempts for Greg Roman’s offense, with Lamar Jackson (11), Mark Ingram (13) and Dobbins (7) taking up the vast majority. Each runner should be efficient against a Browns defense that allowed the third-most yards per carry last season. Cleveland’s linebacking crew got even thinner this offseason with the loss of Christian Kirksey and Joe Schobert, followed by a camp injury to Mack Wilson. An early lead for Baltimore could spell disaster for the Browns.
  • Baker Mayfield: 17/31 for 189.76 yards, 1.01 TDs, 1.35 INTs While a bounce-back season may be in store for Mayfield, we’re bearish on his Week 1 outlook against this Ravens defense. They ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA metric last season and allowed opposing QBs to post just 6.1 yards per attempt, the fifth-lowest mark in the NFL. Mayfield’s inaccuracy was a huge issue in 2019 as well, as he finished with a completion rate below 60 percent and ranked behind only Jameis Winston with 21 interceptions. The scheme change under Kevin Stefanski and Cleveland’s wealth of weapons should help Baker succeed throughout the season, but we don’t think you’ll see it come to fruition in Week 1.