For the second straight week, a coach early in his second year in charge will be working on three days preparation time against an established coach.
Last week, the Giants and two-time Super Bowl champion coach Tom Coughlin wrecked the host Carolina Panthers, 36-7, who were playing under the second-year staff of Ron Rivera and second-year QB Cam Newton, who was reduced to being a sourpuss by game’s end.
This week, Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur is in Rivera’s shoes, only he faces a stiffer challenge. His Browns have to travel, plus they’ll be operating under a rookie QB against a Baltimore team that has made the playoffs the past four years.
Dating to 2010, the past three rookie passers to start on such short rest on the road not only are 0-3 (0-3 ATS, too), but directed their teams to a cumulative average of just 203 yards a game.
Now for more on this game:
Pro Football Thursday, Sept. 27
Cleveland Browns (0-3) at Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Time: 5:20 PDT
Line: Ravens by 13 (43½ over/under)
Facts: The Ravens are the most lopsided choice to win this week. In Weeks 2 and 3, however, the Patriots and then the Saints were the heaviest favorites and lost straight-up. • Browns rookie QB Brandon Weeden, who’s tied for the league high with 6 interceptions, averages 5.89 yards a throw, second worst in the league. The Ravens’ Joe Flacco is fifth best at 8.30. • Last season, Baltimore was 0-3 ATS as a double-digit pick, including a 20-14 home victory over the Browns in Week 16 as a 12-point favorite. • Cleveland is one of only two winless teams in the league. The previous six seasons, there were always at least five squads that got off to such lousy starts. • Baltimore had a league season-best 4 TD drives of 80-plus yards last week against New England in a 31-30 victory, including two of 92.
Analysis: Weeden’s going to need help from RB Trent Richardson and the rest of the running game to keep from being pressured into 40-plus throws against a savvy Baltimore secondary led by sensational safety Ed Reed. But considering the Ravens yield only 3.3 yards a rush, fourth best in the league, Weeden might be facing a lot of third-and-longs. On the other side, the Ravens should be able to maintain ball control behind a ground game led by Ray Rice that averages 5.1 yards a carry. And don’t disregard the disruptive nature of a juiced (read that anyway you want) home crowd on the newbie signal caller.
Forecast: Ravens 28, Browns 9
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].