Baltimore Ravens (8-4, 5-7 ATS) at Cleveland Browns (6-6, 5-7), 1 p.m.
Brolley’s Ravens Stats and Trends
The Ravens beat the Browns 16-10 in Week 12 as three-point home favorites in a game totaled at 47 points.
Baltimore has won outright and covered in four straight meetings in this series.
The Ravens have played under the total in four straight games.
Baltimore’s offense has scored just four touchdowns and they haven’t reached 20+ points in a game over its last three games with Lamar Jackson in the lineup.
Lamar Jackson struggled once again in a loss to the Steelers in Week 13, completing 23/37 passes for 253 yards (6.8 YPA), one TD, and one INT. He added 8/55 rushing to finish with a respectable 18.6 FP. Jackson is averaging just 6.0 YPA with six TD passes to eight INTs over his last four games, which includes a missed contest in that span for an illness. Lamar has thrown for just one touchdown pass in nine of his 11 games this season, and he’s accounted for only two rushing TDs after scoring seven times in each of his last two seasons. Lamar still has one of the best floors in the league because of his 69.3 rushing yards per game, but he’s given us three straight floor performances over the last month with fewer than 19 FP in each of those contests. He posted 165/1 passing and 13.4 FP with four INTs against this week’s opponent, the Browns, back in Week 12.
Mark Andrews posted 4/65/1 receiving on 10 targets in this matchup two weeks ago and all four of Lamar’s INTs were intended for Andrews. He’s posted 4+ catches in 10 of his 12 games this season, and he has 50+ receiving in four straight games and in eight of his last 10 contests.
Marquise Brown finished with 8/51 receiving on 10 targets in this matchup two weeks ago. He has 5+ catches in each of his last five games but he’s averaging just 10.3 YPR in that span after averaging 15.2 YPR in his first six games of the season. His aDOT has also plummeted to 9.0 yards since Week 10 after averaging 15.0 yards in the first nine weeks of the season.
Devonta Freeman officially planted his flag as the undisputed top RB in Baltimore with a season-best performance against the Steelers in Week 13. He set new season-best marks in snap share (69%), scrimmage yards (97), targets (8), and FP (20.7), while#2 RB Latavius Murray posted season-lows in snap share (19%) and touches (4). Freeman has developed into one of the steadier pieces of the offense, averaging 17.2/75.7 scrimmage per game with three TDs over his last five games. Freeman has worked his way into reliable RB2 territory, including this week against the Browns, with whom he managed a seven-game low of 7.0 FP (17/60 scrimmage) against back in Week 12.
Brolley’s Browns Stats and Trends
The Browns are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
Cleveland is 2-6 ATS in its last eight home games.
The Browns 4-1 toward unders in their last five home games.
The Ravens throttled Cleveland’s rushing attack when these teams met in Week 12. Nick Chubb managed just 8/16 rushing and 2/23 receiving on four targets and a 50% snap share. Kareem Hunt played on 38% of the snaps in his first game back, but he posted just 7/20 rushing without a catch on his lone target. The Ravens haven’t allowed an individual RB to reach 16+ FP against them since Jonathan Taylor did it back in Week 5.
Baker Mayfield has just one performance with 19+ FP through 12 games this season, and he’s thrown for multiple TDs just three times. He completed 18/37 passes (48.6%) for 247 yards (6.7 YPA) and one TD with one lost fumble for 13.3 FP in this matchup before their Week 13 bye.
Jarvis Landry had his best receiving performance of the season against the Ravens in Week 12, posting season-highs in targets (10), catches (6), and receiving yards (111). The Ravens’ secondary is ravaged by injuries with Marlon Humphrey (pec, IR) going down for the season last week, and they’ve allowed four different WRs to reach 100+ yards in the last three weeks.
Austin Hooper flopped when these teams met in Week 12, failing to catch a pass on his three targets. He could be forced into a big role this week, though, with Harrison Bryant nursing an ankle injury and David Njoku landing on the COVID list this week. Njoku posted 3/35/1 receiving in this matchup two weeks ago and the Ravens are giving up the third-most FPG (16.3) to TEs this season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 30.3 (27th)
Plays per game: 74.3 (1st)
Pass: 58.6% (25th) | Run: 41.4% (8th)
Pace: 26.7 (8th)
Plays per game: 58.1 (30th)
Pass: 60.3% (19th) | Run: 39.7% (14th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
Cleveland has finally gotten a much-needed bye to get a bit healthier, but their offense is impossible to trust for even solid numbers at this point of the season. The Browns have simply fallen apart recently as they’ve been held to 17 or fewer points six times in their last 7 games. In fact, over the last eight weeks, the Browns have scored a FG or TD on just 26.1% of their possessions, which is fourth-worst behind only the Lions (23.4%), Seahawks (23.1%), and Texans (20.8%). Their lack of offensive firepower has killed their play volume, too. The Browns are averaging the third-fewest plays per game – only the Falcons and Seahawks are lower.
Meanwhile, the Ravens haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut as of late either. Baltimore has failed to cover the spread in four of their last 5 games with Lamar Jackson starting and have been held to 17 or fewer points in 4-of-5 as well. Over the last eight weeks, Baltimore actually leads the league in offensive possessions per game (12.0) and they are fourth in time of possession per drive (3:05) – so they are clearly sustaining drives – but their red-zone attack has been suspect at best. The Ravens have turned just 61% of their red-zone possessions into TDs over the last eight weeks, which is 17th. There is still plenty of runway for the Ravens offense to get back on track and it all starts with Lamar improving against the blitz.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
One of the very rare instances of a team facing the same opponent in consecutive games. While the Ravens played against the Steelers last week, a Week 13 bye separates Cleveland from dates across from Baltimore in Week 12 and this week. During that Week 12 contest, Jarvis Landry cobbled up a 6/111/0 line on 10 targets (19.1/12.1 FPs).
With Marlon Humphrey out for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle, the one obstacle in Landry’s way has been removed. Tavon Young will work as the nickelback but, as was the case in Week 12, Landry will face a multitude of defenders while accumulating his numbers.
I’ll just need to disagree with Ravens HC John Harbaugh’s decision to feature Sammy Watkins over Rashod Bateman. Why devote a first round selection to Bateman if he’s not earmarked for an every-down role? And Watkins’ role has not come at the expense of Devin Duvernay . He’s locked down the inside role. The reps allotted to James Proche cut into the field time for Bateman even further. All told, the only receivers currently worth our time are MANdrews and Hollywood.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The last game between these two teams — just two weeks ago — was an absolute disaster, and it probably says a lot about the Browns’ inability to score that they lost despite Lamar Jackson playing like complete trash. And one would think that, despite not being a blitz-heavy team, Browns DC Joe Woods will employ the blitz-heavy approach he took two weeks ago.
Here’s Graham from Stat-Pack on Lamar and how the blitz is getting to him:
In Lamar Jackson’s last three starts, the Ravens have managed just 10 points (vs. Dolphins), 16 points (vs. Browns), and 19 points (vs. Steelers).
In those three games, Lamar has averaged a pathetic 6.9 YPA and owns a 64.4 passer rating.
Lamar gets blitzed more than most QBs because it fills gaps and limits his ability to break free and scramble and also speeds up the play-action game, but he’s faced three especially blitz-heavy plans from the Dolphins, Browns, and Steelers…
Over his last three starts (Week 10, 12-13), Lamar has been blitzed on a whopping 43% of his dropbacks (second-highest rate in league).
In Weeks 1-9, Lamar was blitzed at the fifth-highest rate at 31%.
Per SIS, Lamar has struggled when blitzed this year – he averages 6.3 YPA and has completed 61.7% of his throws.
When he faces just 3- or 4-man rushes, Lamar’s YPA spikes to 8.0 and he’s completed 65% of his passes.
The good news? Lamar’s next three opponents (Browns, Bengals, and Packers) all rank bottom-10 in blitz rate this season. The Bengals and Packers are both bottom-6.
But yeah, the numbers suggest the Browns should keep bringing extra defenders, even if that’s not Woods’ typical M.O.
Jackson said the Ravens have been working against the blitz every day in practice. It obviously remains a struggle on game days.— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) December 8, 2021
By the way, Lamar has now been picked off five times in his last two games, all five of which have been intended for TE Mark Andrews. That’s now 6 interceptions for Jackson in a row that have been targeted for Andrews. Per PFF, Andrews has been targeted on 7 interceptions, most of any player. And it’s hard to necessarily blame Andrews when Jackson throws lollipops like this.
Lamar said he saw Minkah Fitzpatrick on this interception as he dropped back. He just thought he had enough juice to get the ball to Mark Andrews. pic.twitter.com/9Q99cQ8LHl— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) December 6, 2021
With Rashod Bateman falling down the depth chart, our Scott Barrett thinks we have little choice but to start Marquise Brown, whose production has plummeted through no fault of his own. From Start/Sit:
“Since Week 7, Marquise Brown ranks behind only Diontae Johnson in targets per game (12.2) and XFP/G (23.0). Unfortunately, the production hasn’t been there, as he ranks just 22nd in FPG over this span (14.6), but he’s not the one to blame. Over this span, QB Lamar Jackson ranks dead-last in PFF pass grade (43.5).
That’s our concern with Brown this week — that Jackson falls apart, like he did when he last faced the Browns two weeks ago, compiling a distressing 165/1/4 line on 32 pass attempts. This season Jackson has twice as many games with 2 or more interceptions than he does games with 2 or more passing touchdowns. And, well, yeah, that’s bad.
But, still, I think you have little choice but to start Brown this week, who ranks 10th in XFP/G (16.5) and 11th in FPG (16.7) across the full season. At least on paper, the Browns don’t look like a tough matchup for Jackson, ranking 9th-worst in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.48). And though he struggled against them in Week 12, he’s thrown for 3 or more touchdowns in 3 of their last 5 meetings. But it’s undeniably a terrific matchup for Brown (if Jackson can at least play somewhat competently), as Cleveland ranks 4th-worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing WR1s (+3.4).”
The Browns could be down CB Greg Newsome as well — Newsome hit his head late in practice on Friday and is being checked for a concussion.
The Ravens have at least narrowed things out in their backfield. Here’s Graham, also from Start/Sit, on Devonta Freeman:
“Freeman flopped in this spot a few weeks ago for just 7 FP, but I’m going back to him as an RB2. Unlike Latavius Murray, Freeman’s still got a little juice left in the tank and the Ravens have taken notice as he set a new season-high in snaps (69%) last week. Freeman now has 24, 17, and 19 touches over his last three games and he has a great chance to make good on that volume here. The Browns run defense has been cracked for 4.61 YPC (seventh-most) over the last eight weeks while allowing a RB to clear 17 FP against them in 5-of-7 games in this stretch.”
The Browns put up 10 points on the Ravens last time out before their bye, and the hope is after the by QB Baker Mayfield (entire body) and RB Kareem Hunt (calf) are in better shape. But the Browns just can’t score — they’ve finished a drive with a field goal or TD on just 26.1% of possessions since Week 6, fifth-worst in the NFL.
With the Ravens absolutely crushed in the secondary (Marlon Humphrey is now on IR), it’s possible you’re looking for Jarvis Landry to go over 100 yards again, which is certainly possible. But the Ravens defensively have also been torched by tight ends this year. Normally I wouldn’t be too interested anyway, because the Browns typically have so many weapons at the position… except this week.
Harrison Bryant (ankle) will not play Sunday, per Stefanski. #Browns, at the moment, have only one (Austin Hooper) of their top 4 TEs practicing. David Njoku went on the covid list yesterday, and Stephen Carlson was already out for the season— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) December 8, 2021
I think Austin Hooper is a viable streamer this week, given the circumstances, but trusting this Browns passing game might not be something that appeals to you. (David Njoku was officially ruled out on Friday.)