Baltimore Ravens (-4) @ Cleveland Browns
The Ravens have established themselves among the 2nd tier elite in the NFL this season. Last week’s win over New Orleans ranks as one of their most impressive to date. New Orleans sports an offense keenly designed to exploit Baltimore’s weak secondary. In their first meeting of the year, Joe Flacco lit up the Browns for 3 TDs and over 250 yards. Ray Rice broke out last week have the type of game we thought we’d see week in and week out. The Ravens could make a statement by running roughshod over the Browns tomorrow. Anquan Boldin has a great game and Baltimore’s offense puts up a lot of points. Defensively, the Ravens must focus on stopping Peyton Hillis. Hillis puts up most of his numbers early in games. He slows down a great deal by the 4th quarter. The Browns will likely have to rely at least in part on a solid throwing day from Colt McCoy to keep pace with Baltimore. McCoy became a nice surprise for the Browns organization this year and an even better one for the Browns fans. The Jake Delhomme era was brief and uneventful. A huge day from Josh Cribbs in the return game is the only way I see the Ravens not covering this one. The Ravens roll and get the cover.
PICK: RAVENS -4
Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) @ Oakland Raiders
The Colts control their own destiny and I doubt that facts been lost on Manning. Anytime the playoffs are on the line, I’m betting on Manning. He’s one of the most consistent regular season players ever. The Raiders, on the other hand, have been somewhat schizophrenic this season. I am leery to trust Jason Campbell and company just yet. Manning should have Joe Addai back giving the team at least a semblance of a ground attack, taking some pressure off Manning by giving the play action pass back.
McFadden puts up a couple of touchdowns but the Raiders struggle to find production through the passing game. The colts win, not in a route, but by more than enough to get the cover.
PICK: COLTS -2.5