Who: 0-3 Cleveland Browns at 2-1 Baltimore Ravens
What: Week 4 Thursday Night Football
When: Thursday, 8:20 p.m., ET on the NFL Network
Where: M&T Bank Stadium (grass, outdoors), Baltimore, MD
Forecast: 60°, no wind, 60% chance of showers
Odds: Opened at Ravens -13; now Ravens -12
Over/Under: Opened at 45, now at 44
Past Results: The Ravens won 20-14 and 24-10 last November; Baltimore has won the last eight straight against Cleveland and lead the series 19-7.
Trends: Ravens have won 13 straight home games. Browns have lost nine straight and 12 of their last 13 games; they have also lost their last eight straight road games.
Normally I would say that Baltimore might be ripe for a bit of a letdown, but that is less likely to happen against a division opponent. The Browns are also losing a good part of a day to travel on a short week, which is likely to be a greater issue. The bottom line is that Cleveland is bad they are on the road playing a very good team. Baltimore’s offense has improved; rather than just being Ray Rice, it is now Rice, Joe Flacco, Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta behind a line led by Marshall Yanda. The Browns are allowing 392 yards per game (25th) and 25 points per game (18th). Opponents are successfully keying on stopping DE Jabaal Sheard. Last year he had 8½ sacks and five forced fumbles; this year his stat line reads zero and zero. On the other side of the ball Cleveland QB Brandon Weedon looks lost, WR Greg Little has underwhelmed, WR Mohamed Massaquoi hasn’t been able to practice all week due to a hamstring injury, and the Browns offensive line has failed to open up any holes for RB Trent Richardson; last week they were able to muster only 33 yards on the ground at home against Buffalo.
This game doesn’t look like it will be close; it’s not a question of who wins, but by how much. Two units on the Ravens -12, and I’m including them on a teaser with my Sunday predictions.
Prediction: Baltimore 38, Cleveland 10
Congratulations to Time Warner and BrightHouse Networks, who reluctantly and belatedly finally agreed to carry the NFL Network. It’s worth noting that BHN got in one final parting shot in regards to this long running feud: rather than assign the NFLN an open channel slot right next to the other sports networks in the twenties, they banished NFLN off to to obscurity, channel 183, in the midst of such highly popular networks such as Aspire, Jewelry Television, Daystar, The Word Network and Jewish Life TV. For starters that means any television hooked up to your cable line without renting one of their $10 per month boxes won’t get the NFLN – only the televisions hooked up to a box will get that channel. I can’t help but wonder if the execs at BrightHouse are hoping that the NFLN’s ratings are less than stellar based on their channel selection.
To BrightHouse, I just want to say thanks for reminding me why I dropped you years ago.
I went over to a couple of Buffalo Bills fan forums to get a feel for what their fans were thinking of this game, and have some intelligent football discussion about the two teams and what might transpire Sunday. All I came away with was a headache, based on how much they still to this day talk about the video taping in 2007 and crackpot conspiracy theories that are readily accepted as facts by their forum membership. Really sad, and really lame. Hopefully for their sake that’s not a representative cross section of their fan base and is instead just a vocal, lunatic fringe.
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September 27, 1947:
Marvin Lee Aday – better known as Meat Loaf – was born in Dallas
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