Cleveland @ Baltimore
Recommended Wager: BAL -9.0
-RT Chris Hubbard (ankle) is OUT after not practicing all week.
-C JC Tretter (knee) is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week.
-LB Mack Wilson (knee) is OUT after not practicing all week.
-CB Kevin Johnson (liver) is OUT after not practicing all week.
-CB M.J. Stewart Jr. (hamstring) is QUESTIONABLE after being limited all week.
-CB Greedy Williams (shoulder) is OUT after not practicing all week.
IR: DT Andrew Billings (opt out)
-G Tyre Phillips (ankle) is QUESTIONABLE, but practiced in full Friday.
-DT Justin Madubuike (knee) is OUT after not practicing all week.
Spread Breakdown: The line opened around 9, which is where the model ended up grabbing it. It’s currently down to -7.5, so naturally, bet this if you haven’t already. Side note — we typically like to see a strength of at least 3 points to fire off a wager, but we figured 2.97 was close enough.
When Cleveland has the ball:
The Browns will be one of the more interesting offenses to watch this offseason. After drafting Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield first overall in 2018 and trading for All Pro WR Odell Beckham Jr. in 2019, there was a lot of hype around the offense. The duo fell flat, they constantly had communication issues and Mayfield posted a seemingly impossibly low 70.5 QB rating when targeting Beckham. Can a new system and another year under their belts help turn things around? Behind Beckham will again be Jarvis Landry, who is consistently one of the better slot receivers in football. The third option should be Rashard Higgins, who had a solid 2018 campaign before missing most of 2019 with an injury. At tight end, the Browns signed Austin Hooper from the Falcons in the offseason. Hooper posted 787 yards and 6 TDs last year, but PFF did a ton of great work to prove that he isn’t great at creating production by himself. Since 2016, more than 75% of his production has come against zone or underneath coverage, which is by far the most in the league. That isn’t to suggest it’s easy to beat zones, but it’s a message that the Browns will need to scheme Hooper open rather than rely on him to defeat guys one to one. At running back, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are probably the best running back duo in the league.
The offensive line for the Browns should be a strength. They signed former Titans Jack Conklin to come in and play right tackle and invested a first round pick in Jedrick Willis Jr. to play left tackle. Conklin is a consistent, solid tackle who should produce. Willis is a former right tackle at Alabama who was essentially impossible to beat. C JC Tretter and LG Joel Bitonio are also solid players, leaving a single hole at RG in Wyatt Teller. In all, the Browns have the personnel to be a force, the only question is if new HC Kevin Stefanski can do anything about it. One thing is for certain, he’ll be better than Freddie Kitchens. That guy is a boob.
The Ravens on defense are one of the more entertaining teams to watch. They play this new style where guys are asked to do different things then their normal position dictates. They like to bring pressure, but it can come from literally anywhere — seeing safety and corner blitzes isn’t uncommon at all. Even still, I don’t love their talent on the defensive line. They did bring in Clasis Campbell from the Jags, and he’s been one of the better run defenders in football. Matthew Judon is also solid off the edge, but behind those two there isn’t a ton to write about. The linebackers aren’t anything special either, but that’s a position that’s not used as frequently as the Ravens prefer to play with more defensive backs, which is the strength of their team. Although the Ravens had to release Earl Thomas after he punched a teammate, they still have plenty of talent. Marcus Peters, Jimmy Smith, and Marlon Humphrey are up there as one of the best corner trios in the league. Chuck Clark will return to play the strong safety role, and DeShon Elliot will step up to grab Thomas’s old spot at free safety. Elliot is a second year player who hardly played last year, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the new responsibility.
When the Ravens have the ball:
Unanimous 2019 MVP Lamar Jackson returns to try to lead the Ravens offense to another dominant season. Although it would be ridiculous to expect the same statistical output that Jackson put up a year ago (in particular his TD rate of 9.0% is simply not sustainable), he’s still a dynamic threat that’s essentially impossible to contain. The question, much like last year, is where the ball is going. The Ravens will again look to rely on speedy WR Marquise Brown and TE Mark Andrews. There really isn’t much behind either of them. The offensive line, however, is exceptional, lead by LT Ronnie Stanley and RT Orlando Brown Jr.
The defensive line for the Browns has some serious fire power. Myles Garrett will return from suspension, hopefully keeping his helmet on his head this time, as one of the best edge defenders in football. Oliver Vernon will compliment Garrett as a pass rusher, and Sheldon Richardson is solid inside. At linebacker, the Browns have nobody. The secondary is lead by CB Denzel Ward. The talented former 4th overall pick is a tough matchup, the only question is if he can elevate his game to the next level where he’d be an elite corner in the league. Greedy Williams would normally be the number 2 starter, but he’ll miss this one due to a shoulder injury. That leaves shaky Terrance Mitchell as the next man up along with MJ Stewart, who is questionable with a hamstring injury. The safety position has a ton of depth, with Karl Joseph and Andrwe Sendejo winning the job to start the year.
That’s it for now, bitches.