Daily Bet: Browns (+12) at Ravens

Yesterday’s underdog play on the Royals was looking great after the top of the fourth inning, when Kansas City was holding a 4-1 lead. Then they played the bottom of the fourth, when Detroit put up a three-spot to tie it, and the Tigers went on to steal a 5-4 victory with a run in the bottom of the eighth. After back-to-back one-run losses, I’m putting baseball aside today and heading to the NFL with what I’m sure is a head-scratching play on Cleveland.

Head-scratching because the Browns are 0-3, with each loss being worse than the previous one (17-16, 34-27, 24-14) … and because they have a rookie quarterback (Brandon Weeden) with twice as many interceptions (six) as TD passes (three) facing the vaunted Ravens defense. And because they have to travel on a short week. And because they have lost eight straight games to Baltimore. Yeah, I know, I need to stop sniffing glue.

Actually, I do have sound logic for backing Cleveland here. First, the Ravens are in a really tough spot, playing just four days after a physically and emotionally draining 31-30 last-second Sunday-night win over the Patriots (which followed a physically and emotionally draining 24-23 loss at Philadelphia). Secondly, even though the Browns have dropped nine straight regular-season games, only once have they lost by more than 11 points. In fact, Cleveland is 7-2-1 ATS in its last 10 games, including 4-0-1 ATS on the road.

Speaking of point-spread success, the Browns cashed in their last two trips to Baltimore, losing 20-14 as a 12½-point underdog last year and 24-17 as a 12-point pup in 2010. In fact, the visitor has gotten the money in each of the last five meetings. (Those two games are part of the Ravens’ ongoing 0-5 ATS slump as a double-digit home underdog.) Finally, there’s this dirty little secret: Baltimore’s defense is not nearly as good as the public perceives, as the Eagles (486 yards, 24 points) and Patriots (396 yards, 30 points) proved the last two weeks. 

Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆

Wednesday’s Result: Royals (+150) at Tigers (Loss)

Record: 50-41