Baltimore -12 over Cleveland:
The Baltimore Ravens may not be happy about having to play Thursday night, but the fact they are hosting the Cleveland Browns should more than make up for the short week following a last second nailbiter win hosting New England in front of a nationally televised audience Sunday evening. The Ravens have won eight straight over their AFC North rivals, and the Browns are the conference's only winless team heading into this matchup at M&T Bank Stadium.
Baltimore may be hosting the perfect opponent under these circumstances. Besides joining New Orleans as the league's only teams without a win, Cleveland (0-3) enters on losing streaks of 11 straight in AFC North play and 11 on the road within the division. If Cleveland wishes to turn around its fortune in this rivalry, rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson likely need to be productive enough to outscore a balanced offense that leads the league averaging nearly 33 ppg through its first 3 contests.
Weeden has thrown an AFC-high six interceptions, was sacked a season-high four times in Sunday's 24-14 home loss to Buffalo and will now face a deense with perennial All-Pros Reed and Ray Lewis for the first time. Weeden's 60.7 quarterback rating is the league's third-worst heading into week 4 action. The Ravens are limiting opposing rushers to 3.3 yards per carry for the league's fourth-best mark as they get their first look at Richardson, who was held to a season-low 27 yards on 12 carries Sunday. Ray Rice (46 carries for 268 yards and 3 TD plus 14 receptions for 127 yards this year) will also be a huge part of the Ravens offensive game plan both controlling the tempo through the running attack and catch balls out of the backfield.
The three days off may mean the most to Torrey Smith, who scored two touchdowns Sunday less than 24 hours after his younger brother was killed in a motorcycle accident as the Ravens rallied around him. Smith is up to a team-high 235 yards receiving, and Joe Flacco is second in the NFL with an AFC-best 913 passing yards to go with a 101.1 QB rating. Cleveland will be hampered with top receiver Mohamed Massaquoi and tight end Alex Smith unavailable. Massaquoi is bothered by a pulled hamstring and Smith has a concussion that also caused him to miss last week's game.
During this 8 game winning streak against Cleveland, Baltimore has outgained the Browns by an average of 352-232 while winning by an average of just over 14 points per contest. Too much firepower on both sides of the ball in this one, and Baltimore should continue its dominance of Cleveland by establishing a sizeable lead early and maintaining it throughout.