NFL Week 12 Best Bets: Browns vs. Ravens Sunday Night Football Picks

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The Baltimore Ravens. Andy Lyons/Getty Images/AFP

The Cleveland Browns (6-5) and Baltimore Ravens (7-3) will meet Sunday night for the first time this season. The last meeting last December was a classic 47-42 shootout won by the Ravens.

Baltimore has been playing a ton of close games this season while the Browns are one of the most unpredictable teams in the league under head coach Kevin Stefanski. Let’s see the NFL odds.

Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, November 28, 2021 – 08:20 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium

The Ravens (4-6 ATS) are a 3.5-point favorite over the Browns (5-6 ATS) at many of BMR’s top sportsbooks. Lamar Jackson is confident he is past the illness that kept him out of last week’s game against Chicago. Cleveland could be getting back offensive tackle Jack Conklin and running back Kareem Hunt after both were on injured reserve.

Browns: High or Low?

Cleveland has been anything but predictable under head coach Kevin Stefanski since he took over last season. The Browns could play a 14-7 game one week with Minnesota and then a 47-42 shootout with the Chargers a week later. The Browns crushed an improved Cincinnati team 41-16 but had to hang on for a 13-10 win over winless Detroit with Tim Boyle making his first (and possibly only) NFL start.

Since 2020, the Browns have been involved in six games with fewer than 28 combined points, two more than any team in the league. Also, since 2020, the Browns have been involved in four games with 80-plus combined points. No other team has played more than one such game.

Any outcome is on the table with this Cleveland team. But on Sunday, the Browns were lucky to be playing Tim Boyle, who finished with a 6.7 QBR, the lowest game by any quarterback in Week 11. But the next-lowest passer was Baker Mayfield (8.6). Mayfield (37.2) ranks 27th on the season in QBR. He has never been this banged up before in his career and that has to be having an impact on his play.

But he has only thrown six touchdowns in his last five games. Cleveland has failed to score more than 14 points in four of his last five starts as he’s averaged 185.2 passing yards per game. The running game is still a threat with Nick Chubb and getting Conklin and Hunt back could only help there, but the passing game has to start clicking more for the Browns to be a playoff team in a muddled AFC.

The Browns are 0-4 when they allow more than 21 points this season. Right now, the Browns are a middling team on both sides of the ball. But as their win in Cincinnati is the highlight of their season, they have an opportunity to do it again to a division foe in Baltimore.

What’s Wrong with the Ravens?

For the first three seasons of the Lamar Jackson era, the Ravens were a lock to field an elite defense and running game. But due to roster deficiencies not only limited to injuries, but the Ravens are also no longer as special in those departments. They are not terrible; they’re just not where they were before.

Baltimore has already been held under 110 rushing yards three times this season, something that hadn’t happened once to the team in 2019-20. The Ravens have allowed over 30 points four times this season and they rank next to last in takeaways per drive.

Big plays, especially in the passing game, have hurt Baltimore this year. The good news is this defense is still reliable in situational football. No defense has been stingier in the red zone than the Ravens, and no defense allows a lower conversion rate on third down (30.5%) than the Ravens. This should help against a suspect Cleveland offense that ranks 23rd on third down and 19th in the red zone.

Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens. Scott Taetsch/Getty Images/AFP

Jackson’s last start in Miami was his worst game of the season, but he has mostly been productive. The offensive line melted in the Miami heat that night and should play better in this one, though the line has been an issue since opening night. But as long as the Ravens get No. 1 wide receiver Marquise Brown (thigh) back this week too, the offense should be solid in this matchup. Jackson has thrown 10 touchdowns to two interceptions and averages 8.35 yards per attempt against the Browns in his career.

Prediction

The Browns have established that they are no longer a push-over team, but games like this are still the ones where it is hard to trust them to win. When you look at the games the Browns won and lost this year, just on the opponent alone they all were predictable outcomes except for maybe that Cincinnati blowout win.

While I think the Ravens have kept things too close to the vest all season, they are still the better team and I like them to cover the spread for your NFL picks this Sunday.

NFL Pick: Ravens -3.5 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.