NFL Picks: Browns vs. Ravens in Week 2

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 6:58 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 11, 2013 6:58 PM GMT

Any initial thoughts as Baltimore defense carrying on with business as usual, were quickly dismissed by Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the first game of the NFL season.

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The Ravens will be home for the first time in 2013 to share the moment with their fans in winning the Lombardi Trophy while preparing for a division rival.

It is a given coach John Harbaugh has told his team repeatedly since the earlier mini-camps: They earned the Super Bowl. But that was last year and now we start over with a different team.

The plane ride home had to be long, since all the months of euphoria were quickly wiped away, with the defense torched for 445 passing yards and all they've been hearing about is Manning’s seven touchdown passes.

"…We’re ticked off at ourselves, to use your term. We’re not happy about the way we played, especially in critical situations.” said coach Harbaugh. He followed with this thought: "Going forward, we’ve got to improve from that. So, yes, we should be upset about that. We also have to move on from it emotionally, and we have to prepare for the next challenge." 

Baltimore is Normally Ready for the Next Opportunity

Since being named head coach in 2008, Harbaugh has used 20 or more point blowout defeats as teaching points. On the four occasions this has previously happened on his watch, the Ravens have come back to win each time and covered the spread three times.

New Leadership, Same Results for Cleveland

Optimism was running higher than normal on the shores of Lake Erie, with the Indians still playing meaningful baseball games and Browns having a new coach and more talent on the field than in recent memory.

Unfortunately, the home opener against the Dolphins resembled too many games Cleveland fans have witnessed since the football franchise was restored in 1999. The loss to Miami left the Browns an unthinkable 1-14 in the first home game of the season.

The marriage of quarterback Brandon Weeden and Norv Turner -which was so positive in August-quickly saw the bloom come off the rose, with Weeden throwing three interceptions and Turner underutilizing RB Trent Richardson, supplying him with nine carries in the Browns final 66 plays.

Matchup Numbers

Baltimore was sent out by sportsbooks at -6.5 at most locations and was at -7 by Tuesday afternoon. While we do not know the exact psychology behind an odds makers release, we found it more than curious 6.5 was the number since it goes without saying that this contest was going to rise to seven in the sports betting odds no matter what it was upon release. One cannot help but wonder if NFL odds makers used the 6.5 as a deterrent to even the early action on this game.

Cleveland has covered the past three contests at M&T Bank Stadium. However, in each case they were catching 11 or more points.

The total went up a point to 43.5, since its opening figure.

What to Watch For

The Browns and Steelers rivalry has deeper roots, but this is the real “hate” game for Cleveland fans, since their franchise was moved from their town to Baltimore in 1995.

Either Cleveland plays well or Baltimore does not take them seriously, which has made for close contests in crab cake city. The Browns have to maximize the talents of their best player in Trent Richardson and find him 25 touches.

The offensive line is better at run blocking than pass blocking and the center and two guards have to hold their ground and not be pushed into Weeden’s face.

The Cleveland defense has the tools to slow the Ravens passing game, but must be fully aware of Ray Rice at all times.

While it might be tempting to look ahead to Houston next week, Baltimore needs four solid quarters of football. The Ravens will want to establish the running game, which allows Joe Flacco to work down the field less encumbered.

Without a doubt, the Baltimore secondary wants to play better and the key here should be a steady rush on Weeden. Look to the Ravens for your Sunday NFL picks in this game.

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NFL Pick: Bet Baltimore Ravens -7 on the spread at Bet365

(You may have to buy the half-point, so shop around.) 

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