Underdog Cleveland Browns poised to play spoiler vs Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield Darren Fells (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield Darren Fells (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens meet in a highly anticipated matchup, as both franchises have a lot on the line.

The Cleveland Browns should be the last team the Baltimore Ravens should want to play with a trip to the playoffs on the line.

The Browns are riding a wave momentum unknown to generation of fans as the organization looks to wrap up just its third winning season since 1999.

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With Baker Mayfield under center, the feeling in Cleveland is that anything is possible, and that the rest of the league should feel fortunate the Browns were eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16.

With that said, Cleveland is reportedly treating this contest like a playoff game as the chance to play spoiler is alive and well. If Baltimore wins, the Ravens win the AFC North. If Baltimore loses and the Steelers win, Pittsburgh goes to the postseason and the Ravens go home.

Oddshark listed the Browns as 5.5 point underdogs, as of Dec. 28, while ESPN’s expert predictions also favor the Ravens.

The Browns have already beaten the Ravens at home, although that’s when Joe Flacco was still starting and Hue Jackson was still Cleveland’s head coach.

A lot’s changed since then, as Lamar Jackson has Baltimore operating under a run-first offense.

Here’s some of the more intriguing nuggets to pay attention to heading into the game…

1. With Flacco under center, the Ravens passed the ball 64 percent of the time, compared to running 35 percent. That stat has flipped with Jackson at quarterback.

If the Browns force Jackson to beat them from the pocket, this could be a landslide in Cleveland’s favor.

2. When he actually passes, Jackson loves looking for tight end Mark Andrews over the middle. The onus is going to be on Cleveland’s linebackers to take this option away.

and when Jackson runs, it’s usually because of a designed play call or a result of a run-pass option. The plays that will have you face-palming are when he does drop back and scrambles for yardage.

3. Jarvis Landry didn’t know the Baltimore Ravens used to be the Cleveland Browns. He was just a toddler when Art Modell ventured out Baltimore to announce the move.

Landry’s an emotional player, as his quarterback Baker Mayfield. One thing that’s been fun to watch with this team is the rah-rah college mentality that oozes out the man under center.

I’m not going to say the Browns are going to try harder because the Ravens used to be in Cleveland, but based on Mayfield’s stare down of Hue Jackson last week, this is still a team looking to deepen the chip on its shoulder and that trickles down from their quarterback-leader.

4. Antonio Brown is changing his jersey to say “Browns” and Cam Heyward is taxing Chris Hubbard, teeing his former teammate that they better knock out out the Ravens.

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It’s a weird day in the AFC North that the Browns could be over .500 and that the Steelers are routing them on.