BROWNS (0-9) AT RAVENS (4-4)
TV: NFL; Radio: WCBS (880)
Ravens by 9.5; O/U: 45
Imagine, for a moment, you were a fly on the wall inside NFL headquarters on Wednesday.
“What are we going to do about our ratings problem?”
“Well, here’s the good news: The World Series ended last week, the election ended last night, and now everyone will be consumed with football 24/7.”
“You’re right. This week’s Thursday night game is going to kick-start a ratings turnaround. Who’s playing again?”
“Yeah, about that . . . ”
Browns-Ravens? Not even Wolf Blitzer could get excited about this matchup.
This AFC North “battle” is a rematch of Baltimore’s 25-20 win at Cleveland in Week 2. The Browns, the only team in the division to not have its bye yet — they just can’t catch a break, right? — may be feeling like this finally could be the week. Of the Browns’ nine losses, six have been competitive for at least a half-plus, none more so than that game in September with Cleveland jumping out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead. Then Baltimore returned a blocked extra point, rallied and yada, yada, yada, Cleveland is staring at 0-10.
Will the Browns win? Doubtful. Will they cover? Maybe. Nine- and-a-half points is a big number, especially on a short week. The Ravens beat the Steelers last week, but the belief here is that they’re more of the team that lost four in a row before the bye. One thing to note: The Browns have backdoor covered in the closing seconds in two of their last four games, so if this is 30-17 with a minute left, a Browns touchdown in garbage time means you clean up.
Cody Kessler has shown some potential in the passing game, and maybe receivers Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman can make things interesting. Take the points, and also take solace in the fact that next week’s Thursday night game (Saints-Panthers rematch from Week 6 shootout) should be more entertaining.
The pick: Browns
TOM ROCK: Ravens
KIMBERLEY A. MARTIN: Ravens
BOB GLAUBER: Ravens