Following a nail-biting 31-30 win over New England on Sunday night, Baltimore is poised to host division-rival Cleveland on Thursday night at home.
As of early Wednesday, most books had Baltimore (2-1 straight up, 2-1 against the spread) favored by 12 ½ or 13 with the total at 43 ½. Bettors can take the Browns to win outright for a lucrative plus-550 payout (risk $100 to win $550).
John Harbaugh’s club rallied from a 30-21 fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Patriots on Justin Tucker’s 27-yard field goal as time expired. Joe Flacco completed 28-of-39 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns compared to one interception.
Flacco’s favorite target was second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith, who played despite the fact that his 19-year-old younger brother was killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday night. In honor of his late brother, Smith hauled in six receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Ray Rice rushed 20 times for 101 yards and one score, a seven-yard scamper to paydirt early in the third quarter. Rice also had five catches for 49 yards.
For the season, Flacco is second in the NFL with 913 passing yards. He has completed 64.5-percent of his throws with a 6/2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Flacco has a QB rating of 101.1, which is notable because his career-best rating is 93.6.
Rice is seventh in the NFL with 268 rushing yards and is tied for the league lead with three rushing TDs. Rice is averaging 5.8 yards per carry.
Cleveland (0-3 SU, 1-1-1 ATS) and New Orleans are the NFL’s only winless teams left. The Browns have losses vs. Philadelphia (17-16), at Cincinnati (34-27) and vs. Buffalo (24-14). They covered the spread as home underdogs against the Eagles, pushed in the loss to the Bengals and failed to cover as 2 ½-point ‘dogs against the Bills.
Since throwing four interceptions in a nightmare Week 1 performance, Cleveland rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has played much better. The Oklahoma St. product threw for 322 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception against the Bengals.
Weeden was picked off twice by Buffalo, but he did throw for 237 yards and a 22-yard scoring strike to rookie Travis Benjamin.
Cleveland rookie RB Trent Richardson was limited during training camp with a knee problem, and he was held to just 27 rushing yards on 12 carries against the Bills. Richardson was also held in check against the Eagles, but he produced his first 100-yard rushing game against the Bengals by rushing for 107 yards on 19 carries.
Richardson has rushed for 175 yards and two TDs, averaging just 3.5 yards per carry. He has 11 catches for 65 yards and one score.
Dating back to last season, the Browns have lost nine in a row and 12 of their last 13. However, they are 7-2-1 ATS in their last 10 games.
Baltimore has won eight in a row over Cleveland, compiling a 6-2 spread record in the process. The Ravens have been favored by double digits in four of those eight contests, going 2-2 ATS.
The ‘over’ has been a winner in all three of Baltimore’s games this year. The ‘under’ is 2-1 for the Browns. In the last six head-to-head meetings between these AFC North rivals, the ‘under’ has cashed at a 5-1 clip.
Cleveland starting cornerback Joe Haden is ‘out’ as he continues to serve a four-game suspension from the NFL. WR Mohamed Massaquoi (9 catches for 145 yards) left the Buffalo game with a hamstring injury and sat out Tuesday’s practice. However, according the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the coaching staff is optimistic that he’ll play at Baltimore.
The NFL Network will have the telecast at 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--There are five home underdogs in Week 4: Jets +4 vs. 49ers, Bills +4 vs. Patriots, Chiefs +1 vs. Chargers, Rams +2.5 vs. Seahawks and Jags +2.5 vs. Bengals.
--Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan owns a 46-19 career record in games he’s started.
--With last week’s win at San Diego, the Falcons have won all six games they have played in the Pacific time zone since Mike Smith took over as head coach.
--Sportsbook.ag has updated its futures to win this year’s Super Bowl. The Texans are the plus-350 ‘chalk,’ followed by the 49ers (5/1), Falcons (7/1), Ravens (8/1), Packers (9/1), Patriots (10/1) and the Giants (18/1).
--The Browns are 200/1 long-shots to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the offshore betting shop. They are joined with the longest NFL odds by the Colts, Jaguars, Rams and Dolphins.
--There aren’t many believers in the 2-1 Vikings, as evidenced by their 100/1 odds to win the Super Bowl at Sportsbook.
--Baltimore has the second-shortest odds to win the AFC with 4/1 odds. The Texans are the plus-140 ‘chalk.’
--Green Bay, New England and New Orleans have combined to post a 2-7 record to date. Who saw that coming?
--Click here to check out my Power Ranking going into Week 4.
Brian Edwards can be reached at email@example.com.
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