Sunday Night Football Week 12 Preview and Prediction: Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns

Ben Gretch shares his favorite play from Sunday Night Football between the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens.
Ben Gretch |
Sun, November 28, 12:30 PM EST | 4 min read
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Sunday Night Football Week 12 Preview and Prediction: Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, November 28

Game Time: 8:20 PM ET

Where to Watch: NBC

  • Key Stat: None of these teams’ four meetings across 2019 and 2020 totaled fewer than 44 total points scored

Browns vs Ravens Odds

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns Prediction

Sunday Night Football brings us a huge divisional game that starts a stretch of two matchups over the next three weeks between the Ravens and the Browns. Both teams are coming off disappointing recent results, with the Browns having beaten the winless Lions just 13-10 last week on the heels of a blowout loss to the Patriots, and the Ravens narrowly edging Chicago last week 16-13 after their own embarrassing defeat to the Dolphins. Cleveland currently sits at 6-5 and is in last place in the competitive AFC North, while Baltimore is in first at 7-3 but just a game-and-a-half up on the Browns.

Surely both teams are aware of the magnitude of these upcoming games. The Browns will go on a bye in Week 12, so because of a scheduling quirk their next two contests will both be against the Ravens. If they were to sweep Baltimore, they’d move to 8-5 and at worst a tie with Baltimore where they would hold the tiebreaker advantage. Baltimore meanwhile has not just Cleveland but also Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to worry about, but certainly understands they need to win here with home field advantage to secure at least a split in these upcoming contests with Cleveland.

The big injury news for this one is the activation of both tackle Jack Conklin and running back Kareem Hunt off IR for Cleveland. The Browns are expected to have both players for this matchup, and that will be a huge boost to their run game as Conklin is a high-level run blocker and Hunt is perhaps the league’s best No. 2 back. D’Ernest Johnson has been a solid fill-in for Cleveland over the past month, but getting Hunt back to pair with Nick Chubb allows Cleveland to run their offense through their two high-end backs and work play-action off of that. Hunt is also more of a threat in the passing game than the other backs on the roster in a way that makes the Cleveland offense less predictable.

It’s somewhat shocking in a matchup of these two run-first teams that all five meetings where Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield have been the starting quarterbacks have featured considerable scoring. Their last matchup, late in 2020, was a 47-42 shootout that the Ravens won late, and none of the five matchups between these quarterbacks have totaled fewer than 44 points scored.

And yet, both of these offenses have stumbled of late, and this season they both are among the seven slowest in the NFL in situation-neutral time to snap. Baltimore isn’t quite the running team it used to be, with an injury-depleted running back room leading them to a more aggressive passing season than they’d previously shown with Jackson under center. At the same time, the passing game has stumbled of late, falling victim to what many of the league’s explosive passing games have run into — defenses sitting back and taking away the downfield looks, forcing them to move the ball down the field methodically. That’s helped the running game, and over the past six weeks Baltimore is back to their typical perch as the league-leading offense in rushing success rate — always boosted by Jackson — while they sit just 24th in passing success rate. Over the season’s first five weeks, they were just 10th in rushing success rate and fifth in the league when throwing.

The Browns have similarly struggled to throw the ball, and haven’t eclipsed even 220 net passing yards since Week 5. With Conklin and Hunt back in the fold, it seems likely they’ll try to re-find their identity by establishing the ground game, hoping to find passing opportunities off of it. These teams know each other well, and they haven’t had a hard time scoring on each other in recent years, but this is a new year. I’m fading those past trends and playing the under here, as the rush attempts will keep the clock moving, and the teams’ slow paces will limit the overall plays in what profiles more like an old-fashioned AFC North battle.

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns Pick

  • Under 47

Baltimore Ravens vs Cleveland Browns Market

Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch

Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.

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