Championship teams avoid letdowns after big wins.
The Baltimore Ravens know that, and they’re coming off one of their most significant regular-season victories, that entertaining and dramatic squeaker against New England.
Normally, the Browns wouldn’t be much of a test for the Ravens. The vitriol in this rivalry belongs to the folks in Cleveland who still consider the original Browns’ move to the Inner Harbor in 1996 a betrayal. Not much hatred comes from the other side, in great part because the Browns have been a weak opponent for most of their 13 years back in the NFL.
Indeed, the Ravens (2-1) are ranked third in the AP Pro32 power rankings, while the Browns are all the way down at the bottom with an 0-3 record.
Baltimore is favored by 12 points, but remember this game Thursday night comes on the heels of that oh-so-satisfying win over the Patriots, who survived against the Ravens in the AFC title game last January. Coach John Harbaugh’s team better make sure it is looking ahead, not behind.
“We have to let this one go right now. We have to move on,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said.
“It’s going to be tough, and we knew that,” star linebacker Ray Lewis said. “So we’re going to have to get healthy and get healthy real quick. Cleveland doesn’t care how we feel.”
All the Browns care about is getting a win, but the Ravens swept the AFC North last year and have won eight straight against Cleveland. On a short week, the experienced team usually has an edge, as the Giants proved last Thursday at Carolina.
Go with the better, more seasoned teams at home. ... RAVENS, 30-10
No. 4 (tie) San Francisco (minus 3 1-2) at No. 18 New York Jets — 49ers weren’t ready in Minnesota. They will be primed at Meadowlands. ... BEST BET: 49ERS, 17-6
No. 4 (tie) New York Giants (plus 2 1-2) at No. 12 Philadelphia — Giants showed their mettle in last two wins, Eagles are too careless. ... UPSET SPECIAL: GIANTS, 23-21
No. 27 New Orleans (plus 7 1-2) at No. 7 Green Bay — Last thing you want is to face a ticked-off Packers team. ... PACKERS, 37-28
No. 8 New England (minus 3 1-2) at No. 20 Buffalo — Unless, that is, it’s facing a ticked-off bunch of Patriots. ... PATRIOTS, 38-27
No. 17 Minnesota (plus 4 1-2) at No. 19 Detroit — Vikings a pleasant surprise so far, will test disappointing Lions. ... LIONS, 28-27
No. 23 Carolina (plus 7) at No. 2 Atlanta — Some feel Falcons are NFL’s best team so far. Hard to argue. ... FALCONS, 31-17
No. 25 Tennessee (plus 12) at No. 1 Houston — Some feel Texans are NFL’s best team so far. Hard to argue that, too. ... TEXANS, 33-20
No. 28 Miami (plus 6 1-2) at No. 6 Arizona — Some feel Cardinals are NFL’s best team so far. If defense keeps this up, could be. ... CARDINALS, 24-10
No. 10 Chicago (plus 3 1-2) at No. 11 Dallas, Monday night — Aaron Rodgers was sacked eight times last Monday night. Jay Cutler could go down more often. ... COWBOYS, 20-13
No. 13 San Diego (minus 1 1-2) at No. 24 Kansas City — Just can’t trust Chargers — not that Chiefs are anything special. ... CHIEFS, 20-17
No. 9 Seattle (minus 2 1-2) at No. 29 St. Louis — If it comes down to a desperation pass on final play, go with Seattle. ... SEAHAWKS, 27-13
No. 26 Oakland (plus 6) at No. 16 Denver — Steelers handed Raiders a gift. Peyton won’t be so charitable. ... BRONCOS, 26-24
No. 14 Cincinnati (minus 1 1-2) at No. 30 Jacksonville — Bengals beat a better Washington team on road last week. ... BENGALS, 22-14
No. 21 Washington (plus 3) at No. 22 Tampa Bay — Bucs play teams tough, can handle this NFC East foe — barely. ... BUCCANEERS, 30-28
Against spread — 5-10-1 (16-30-2); 7-9 (26-22)
Best Bet — 2-0-1 against spread, 3-0 straight up
Upset special — 2-1 against spread, 2-1 straight up