Following the "Monday Night Football" fiasco, I found it amusing to read comments from people saying they wouldn't watch NFL games until the real refs come back. Please. Any passionate NFL fan is tuning in tonight to watch the Cleveland Browns-Baltimore Ravens game. It's an opportunity to bet an NFL game, so we're here to offer you the standard Thursday Night Primer column.
For those still around in knockout pools, you're surely going back and forth weighing whether the Ravens or Houston Texans are a better pick this week. The rest of us are debating whether the Ravens playing a fourth game in 17 days is too much to ask of a team that is laying almost two touchdowns.
As I mentioned in this week's Monday Night Chaser, underdogs have been a profitable play this season, going into tonight's game with a 28-19-1 record against the spread. No surprise then that sports books have been having their best year in ages.
A trend is developing in Ravens games; they're scoring more than most people expect. This team always has been defense-first, but with the continued development of Joe Flacco (and along with him, a fast-paced, no-huddle offense) and the injury to linebacker Terrell Suggs, a shift has been made and the public has been slow to react. Indeed, the over has been cashed for each of Baltimore's games this year.
According to ESPN's PickCenter, 54.9 percent of fans expect Baltimore to cover the spread. With that in mind, it's probably wise to do the opposite.
Let's get some analysis on where the money is going from bookmaker Jay Kornegay of the Las Vegas Hotel and a pick from professional handicapper Sal Selvaggio of MadduxSports.com.
Matchup: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens
Spread: Opened at Ravens minus-13, now Ravens minus-12.5
Total: Opened at 45, now 43.5