Can Baltimore stay in first place? Against Cleveland, most likely
The Cleveland Browns are winless, 0-9 for the first time in this version of the franchise’s history. They are ranked dead last at No. 32 in the AP Pro32.
And now they must play on a short week at their hated rival, the Ravens — who used to be the Browns before fleeing to Baltimore in 1996.
Baltimore was floundering, losing four in a row before beating Pittsburgh, another hated rival for both the Ravens and Browns. A win over Cleveland could give the Ravens sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
It’s a benefit for John Harbaugh’s team that it is taking on Hue Jackson’s squad Thursday night. And no, not only because the Browns have the league’s worst record.
“You just have to get right to the next opponent, which we did being Cleveland,” Harbaugh said. “Fortunately, I think for both teams probably, they are opponents that we both have familiarity with, being a rivalry game and in the division, and we played each other once already this year. So that helps the preparation mentally, but things change, Cleveland has changed scheme and personnel a little bit, so we really have to look at that.
“More than anything, it is getting back physically. The guys will be emotionally ready to play. It is a big game for both teams. … It is a national game. Everybody is going to be excited.”
The Ravens (No. 16 in AP Pro32) are 10-point choices over the beleaguered Browns. Is this the time to go out on a limb — way out on a limb — and take Cleveland to finally win? Nah, because Pro Picks is pretty beleaguered these days, too.
Cowboys came through last week, counting on ARIZONA to do the same this week.
No. 5 Seattle (plus 7 1-2) at No. 1 New England
Everything points to Patriots coming off bye as Seahawks travel cross-country after Monday nighter.
BEST BET: PATRIOTS, 30-13
No. 6 Atlanta (plus 2) at No. 13 Philadelphia
Falcons get Eagles at the right time.
UPSET SPECIAL: FALCONS, 23-20
No. 2 Dallas (plus 3) at No. 15 Pittsburgh
Steelers need to turn it around soon. Won’t start Sunday.
No. 31 San Francisco (plus 13) at No. 20 Arizona
Cardinals need to turn it around. Might start Sunday.
No. 4 Kansas City (plus 3) at No. 24 Carolina
Panthers have begun their turnaround. Statement win here.
No. 9 Minnesota (plus 2) at No. 10 Washington
Vikings are too injured and too unreliable on offense right now.
No. 7 Denver (plus 1 1-2) at No. 21 New Orleans
Until the Broncos find more balance …
No. 18 Cincinnati (plus 2) at No. 8 New York Giants, Monday night
Could be a shootout at MetLife Stadium.
No. 14 Green Bay (minus 2) at No. 25 Tennessee
It’s time for A-Rod and the Packers to wake up.
No. 12 Houston (minus 1 1-2) at No. 30 Jacksonville
At some point, the Jaguars figure to get it right.
No. 19 Miami (plus 4) at No. 17 San Diego
Both teams have come on after weak starts.
No. 27 Los Angeles (plus 2) at No. 28 New York Jets
Hard to pick Jets right now. Impossible to pick Rams.
No. 29 Chicago (OFF) at No. 26 Tampa Bay
Look and listen for lots of Bears fans at game.
Last Week: Against spread (6-5-2). Straight up: (8-5)
Season Totals: Against spread (60-65-6). Straight up: (75-55-2)
Best Bet: 5-4 against spread, 6-3 straight up.
Upset special: 5-3-1 against spread, 5-4 straight up