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Ravens News 12/11: Joyful Time and more

Cleveland Browns v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Lamar Jackson Is Having Fun Again, And That’s Bad News for His Opponents - Ryan Mink

Jackson played one of his best games of the season against the Cowboys, throwing two touchdowns and running for one more. It wasn’t flawless, and he didn’t fill the box score with gaudy stats like he did last season, or even in a Week 1 blowout of the Cleveland Browns.

But the kid-like joy that Jackson played with, and fans fell in love with last season, was back. And that’s bad news for Jackson’s opponents.

“I did have fun coming back. I was out two weeks. I missed my guys,” Jackson said.

“It’s win or go home for us right now. Just going out there and putting it all on the line for one another, that’s joy for me. Being around my guys, being back out there … being away for two weeks, it felt like a whole year. It’s just a joyful day [against the Cowboys] and joyful time for me.”

His teammates noticed it too. Running back Gus Edwards said that every time he broke a run, Jackson was right behind him when he turned around. Jackson was running down the field in excitement.

“He was cheering his teammates on, he was real vocal on the sideline,” Edwards said. “You could tell he missed the game. You could tell he was having so much fun out there.”

“The first game it was like, we’ve got to go out here and just focus on our assignments, everyone do their job, and that’s what we did,” Jackson said. “We threw the ball down the field, we scored points. That’s what we’ve got to do this Monday.”

Ravens-Browns: Week 14 Preview, Prediction - Todd Karpovich

Ravens Game Plan

Offense

The Ravens are back atop the NFL with 169 yards rushing per game. Baltimore should be close to full strength after battling a massive outbreak of COVID-19 two weeks ago

Baltimore ran for 111 yards in its first meeting against Cleveland. The Ravens will have a tougher time against the much-improved Browns, who are ranked eighth in the NFL allowing 104.3 rushing yards per game.

Defense

Cleveland ran for 138 yards in the first meeting behind Kareem Hunt (13 carries, 72 yards) and Nick Chubb (10 carries, 60 yards). They have established themselves as one of the league’s top running back duos

The Ravens need more production from outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, who was acquired at the trade deadline but has not made much of an impact.

Prediction

The Ravens will see a different Browns team than the one they routed in the regular-season opener. Cleveland is looking to snap an 18-year playoff drought and potentially overtake the Steelers in the AFC North. The Ravens are also looking to make a playoff run and are currently ranked ninth in the seven-team race. Baltimore likely needs to win its final four games to earn a spot in the postseason. The stakes are high for both teams.

Final Score: Ravens 28, Browns 26

NFL Week 14 Picks, Odds: Patriots beat Rams, Colts thump Raiders, Lions shock Packers - Will Brinson

Baltimore (7-5) at Cleveland (9-3)

Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Latest Odds: Ravens -2.5

This is another “Back to the Future” game. Tell your friend in 2017 (or 2019) that “it’s cool the Browns are two games ahead of the Ravens in the AFC North standings and are a mild favorite at home to essentially lock in a playoff spot.” You’ll be greeted with obscenities, sarcasm or sarcasm-filled obscenities. But here we are. So give me the Ravens. Have you lost your mind if you take the Browns?? You might have. Take Lamar Jackson here.

The Pick: Ravens 24, Browns 17

NFL picks, predictions against spread Week 14: Rams finish off Patriots; Steelers stop Bills; Giants stay hot - Vinnie Iyer

Ravens at Browns

The Ravens will be headed into another short week on the road facing a tough Browns run defense which can better contain Lamar Jackson. The Browns can be roasted on the back end but Jackson isn’t getting consistent receiving help. The Ravens’ run defense hasn’t been as good of late and their pass rush has been limited, which will allow Baker Mayfield to stay hot and comfortable enough at home.

Pick: Browns win 20-17.

NFL Week 14 game picks: Rams top Patriots; Steelers over Bills - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 27, Cleveland Browns 24

This might be my favorite game left on the 2020 slate. My heart wants Baker Mayfield’s boffo game against Tennessee to be more about his maturation and less about Kevin Stefanski dialing up wide open first reads against a vulnerable defense. My head says the Ravens’ defense will be a far sterner test, with both offenses more dangerous when running and vulnerable when run against. Baltimore needs this game more and has been in this type of game many more times. Experience wins the day.