NFL Thursday Night Betting Preview: Cleveland vs. Baltimore

cleveland-browns-at-baltimore-ravens-prediction-preview-pick-to-winTonight’s game is pretty much a miserable match up for what is usually an exciting Thursday night of football. But instead, one of the opponents are 0-9, the Cleveland Browns have literally only won three times in their last 25 games, if you go back to the start of the 2015 season. But strangely enough one of those wins came against tonight’s opponent, the Baltimore Ravens.

To just explain how bad things are and have been going for the Browns, by professional football standards, that win was 56 weeks ago. Since then, the organization, has dumped the coaching staff and front office at the beginning of this year, and then they released Johnny Manziel a few months later. But none of those moves helped since they are a sad 0-9 on the season, and a win does not look to be coming anytime soon in their future. And while “Any Given Sunday” mentality, in this case, ‘Thursday’ does not even apply to the Browns, since getting one random win won’t magically fix everything that is so brutally wrong with this team.

In simpler words: It’s another lost season in Cleveland for he Browns, and this game will just be the latest sad chapter in a long line of them going back to the team’s return to the NFL in 1999. Since then, the Browns have only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance, which was in 2002 against the Steelers where they squandered a huge lead to lose a totally winnable wild-card game that could have taken them far.

Since ’99, Cleveland has had nine coaches, and six of them since 2010. They all showed up young up-and-comers, innovators, and all left demoralized and disheartened and defeated. Hue Jackson, who was infamous for his ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks, is the latest coach to have a nervous hold on the position. Only two months into his first season and it’s not unfair to say that nothing has gone according to plan and that this season is a total loss.

Their latest loss was against the Cowboys, a huge 35-10 loss that basically had the game done at halftime. Afterwards, Jackson spoke to media like someone who hadn’t won a football game in 2016: “There were no positives to take out of [Sunday’s matchup against the Cowboys],” the coach said to reporters on Monday. “Some things to learn from, but really no positives.” And that’s been a recurring theme with the team.

“I’ve never been 0-9 before, so you better believe this is the toughest challenge I’ve ever had,” Jackson continued. “But I am excited about the challenge. I truly believe we have a tough road ahead of us, but we’re looking forward to it.”

Something that probably won’t happen anytime is for Jackson to fire his assistants. Defensive coordinator Ray Horton specifically is still safe, despite the Browns’ defense being a hot mess, because this team is still in the beginning stages of a multi-year rebuilding campaign, and this is just the painful beginning.

“I say that with no question,” Jackson said of Horton’s job being safe. “And I don’t want to continue to get into those kind of things. That’s probably the last question I will probably take on any of our staff members about their job. Because it’s not about that at all, in my opinion.”

What’s not considered pure opinion is that losing takes a toll no matter who you are, and it must be heavy on a team that’s all too familiar with losing.

“It is tough,” Jackson admitted. “There were no positives from Sunday, but I think there have been some positives. So that has been a foundation. We take the positives we can find and build on those and make that something we can rally on. … I will continue to try to say this all year, and I’m sure you guys are tired of me saying this, but I’m not going to change. I am going to continue to stay determined.”

And that’s all really the Browns can do. Against the Ravens who have played dynamic and exciting football, the Browns have no chance, so it’s a safe bet to pick Baltimore at home.

The Ravens really do have a championship caliber defense and they’re so good on special teams, but their offense needs to improve. The change at offensive coordinator is paying off with Marty Mornhinweg running the Baltimore offense now. Mornhinweg has cleaned up plays, but the Ravens can do more, they need to perform better and they’ll get that chance tonight against a very poor defense.

So expect the Ravens to score first, and there’s no reason why the Ravens can’t do it, and if they do they’ll take of control the game. A good performance tonight offensively will give the Ravens confidence they really need.

So be sure the Ravens cannot take the Browns for granted even if they are bad. They probably won’t win a game this season, but the Ravens cannot take them for granted. Baltimore knows that they need to play well tonight, to win and build momentum if they want a chance for the post-season.

Prediction: Ravens over Brown, 28-7