Home › Forums › NFL Service Plays › NFL Week 12 • "Monday Night Football". • Service Plays 11/30/15 › Reply To: NFL Week 12 • "Monday Night Football". • Service Plays 11/30/15
Slumping Browns host battered Ravens Monday
By Brian Graham
BALITMORE RAVENS (3-7) at CLEVELAND BROWNS (2-8)
Kickoff: Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Cleveland -3, Total: 41
The Ravens will play their first game in eight seasons without QB Joe Flacco when they visit the Browns on Monday night.
Due to Flacco tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee last week, Baltimore (1-7-2 ATS) will start veteran Matt Schaub under center, marking its first game without Flacco since the 2007 season finale when Troy Smith was the signal caller. Cleveland (3-6-1 ATS) also has quarterback problems with Johnny Manziel demoted to third string after lying about the timeframe of a video of him partying during the team’s bye week. Josh McCown will replace Manziel, who threw for 357 yards last week. The Ravens enter this contest with two wins in their previous three games, while the Browns have lost five in a row, scoring 10 points or less in three of those defeats. Cleveland’s last win this season came at Baltimore on Oct. 11, which was a 33-30 overtime victory. But that was just the Ravens’ second loss in this series during the John Harbaugh era that spans 15 games, and the Browns are going for their first sweep of their AFC North foe since 2007. Since Cleveland rejoined the NFL in 1999, Baltimore is 24-9 SU (17-16 ATS) in this series, including a commanding 11-5 SU (10-6 ATS) advantage on the road. There are several betting trends for both teams on Monday night, as the Ravens are 11-3 ATS under Harbaugh after ATS defeats in four or five of their previous six games, and NFL road underdogs (or pick) after allowing 5.5 or less YPA in two straight games are 42-17 ATS since 1983 when facing an opponent that has given up 7+ YPA in two consecutive contests. But the Browns fall into the category of favorites with a terrible passing defense (7.5+ YPA allowed) going 41-24 ATS in the past five seasons after allowing 7+ YPA in two straight games, and their Monday opponent is 0-6 ATS in conference play this season. There are plenty of injuries to both teams, as Baltimore’s offense will be without Flacco and top RB Justin Forsett (arm), while TE Nick Boyle (foot), OT Eugene Monroe (shoulder) and G Kelechi Osemele (knee) are all questionable. Despite coming off a bye week, Cleveland will also be missing key players in WR Andrew Hawkins and CB Joe Haden, who are both doubtful with concussion symptoms, while S Donte Whitner and WRs Brian Hartline and Taylor Gabriel are all considered questionable with less sever concussion woes.
Matt Schaub will make his first start in a Ravens uniform on Monday night, and it will be his first start since Week 17 of 2013 when he played for Houston. Although he has a winning record of 46-44 as a starter, Schaub lost six straight starts to close out that 2013 campaign. Schaub is also just 1-3 (SU and ATS) all-time versus Cleveland where he’s thrown for only 2 TD and 4 INT. He won’t have the services of either WRs Steve Smith Sr. (Achilles) and Breshad Perriman (knee), who are both on Injured Reserve, and top RB Justin Forsett will also not play after breaking his forearm last week. Forsett rushed for 121 yards versus the Browns in the first meeting this year, and hopes rookie backup RB Javorius Allen can do the same against a miserable Cleveland run-stop unit that allows 139 YPG this year. Allen has rushed for 249 yards on 3.9 YPC and 0 TD this season, but will be the focal point of a Baltimore offense scoring 22.6 PPG on a strong 364 total YPG. The team has 266 YPG (6.4 YPA) through the air and only 98 YPG (3.9 YPC) occurring on the ground. Defensively, the Ravens have struggled this season in allowing 24.9 PPG on 354 total YPG, but during the past three contests, those numbers have improved significantly to 20.3 PPG and 281 total YPG. The run-stop unit has allowed only 97 YPG on 3.7 YPC in 2015, but the passing defense has been burned for 257 YPG on 7.2 YPA and 63% completions. This unit failed to force a single turnover in a five-game span from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1, but has five takeaways in the past two weeks including four in the win over St. Louis last Sunday. With the Browns committing multiple turnovers in four of the past five games, expect Baltimore to aggressively pursue the football on Monday night.
Cleveland QB Josh McCown threw 51 times for a career-high 457 yards with 2 TD in the win at Baltimore last month, as TE Gary Barnidge caught a career-high eight passes for 139 yards and a score. The eighth-year pro is having a breakout season with seven touchdown grabs over the past eight games, and has caught at least six passes in six of those contests. McCown has been slowed by injured ribs this year, but his 2015 numbers are pretty strong with 1,897 passing yards on 7.5 YPA and 65% completions with 11 TD and only 4 INT. He is also 2-0 in his career versus Baltimore with 337 passing YPG, 3 TD and 0 INT. McCown won’t have a strong ground game to lean on either, as Cleveland has rushed for a meager 76 YPG on 3.3 YPC this season, and really needs top RB Isaiah Crowell (328 rush yds, 3.1 YPC, 1 TD) to improve his dreadful 1.5 YPC rate in November. Defensively, the Browns are subpar in most facets, surrendering 27.7 PPG and 407 total YPG. The run-stop unit gives up 139 YPG on a whopping 4.6 YPC, while the passing defense allows opposing quarterbacks to complete 61% of their throws for 268 YPG and 7.9 YPA. In the past three games, Cleveland has allowed 31.7 PPG on 440 total YPG. The one saving grace for this defense is its 10 forced turnovers in the past five contests, including two in the last game in Pittsburgh.