NFL bettors were caught off guard about 90 minutes before the Ravens' kickoff this past Sunday in Chicago when Lamar Jackson was ruled out with a non-COVID illness, but Baltimore managed to win regardless to stay atop the AFC North. The Ravens host the Cleveland Browns in a big divisional game on Sunday night in Week 12 and Jackson says he's "120 percent certain" that he will play. Baltimore is currently -3.5 at the various books, but that number is starting to inch up with this news. Click here for model picks.
Jackson missed practice Wednesday and Thursday last week with the illness but was back on Friday and that raised the spread considerably. However, he felt symptoms again Sunday morning and was scratched. The former Heisman winner is currently +1300 to win his second league MVP at Caesars Sportsbooks. He ranks 14th in the NFL in passing (2,447 yards) and eighth in rushing (639) while totaling 16 TDs.
The Browns surely expected this news, but it's not good for them as Jackson has a 4-1 record as starter vs. Cleveland with 10 TD passes and two picks while rushing for 428 yards and four scores – good for an 85.8 total QBR, the second-highest total QBR of any quarterback against a single opponent since the metric was first tracked in 2006 by ESPN. No. 1 wideout Marquise Brown should return after missing the Bears game injured as he was at practice Wednesday.
Jackson was the last pick of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft and of course the Browns chose Baker Mayfield No. 1 overall that year – clearly a mistake in retrospect. Also a former Heisman winner, Mayfield is playing through shoulder and knee injuries and has been very ineffective the past two weeks as the Browns have totaled just 17 points. The offense has scored more than 17 points overall once since Oct. 10. Last season, Mayfield had a 60-plus QBR in 11 different games. This year, he's only accomplished that feat once.
Mayfield's top two wideouts, Jarvis Landry and Donovan Peoples-Jones, are both banged up and missed practice Wednesday. DPJ missed last Sunday's win over Detroit and Landry aggravated his knee injury in it. The team is short-handed as it is at the position after releasing Odell Beckham Jr. The other receivers currently on the team's depth chart are Rashard Higgins, Anthony Schwartz and Ja'Marcus Bradley. Schwartz didn't practice Wednesday, either, due to a concussion.
Cleveland could be forced to run all night vs. Baltimore but the return of Hunt, the former NFL rushing champion, from injured reserve should help. He said he expects to play and has been designated to return from IR as has offensive tackle Jack Conklin (that designation doesn't guarantee activation). Hunt has 69 carries for 361 yards and five scores as the league's best backup behind Nick Chubb.
The Browns will wear their 75th anniversary jerseys on Sunday night. The road team is 4-1 ATS in the past five in the series.
Who wins every NFL game? And which teams will sink your bankroll? Join SportsLine now to get NFL picks every week, all from the model that simulates every game 10,000 times and is up almost $8,000.