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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 1:00 PM

This could end up being one of the hardest Monday Night NFL games of the whole season to pick. We have two teams in Baltimore and Cleveland who are out of the playoff picture already. Both are disappointed with how things are going. Both have behind-the-scenes issues with factions not being on the same page. Both will be without the quarterbacks who started their last game!

*Joe Flacco of Baltimore injured his knee vs. St. Louis last week. He’s out for the season.

*Johnny Manziel is a knucklehead.

That should go on the Injured list…because Manziel was benched for partying too hard in his home state during a bye week. Horrible choice after the team paid for counseling to encourage a more serious commitment.

How can YOU pick this game? Granting that the numbers won’t mean as much this week as they usually do…let’s run through JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats to see what they have to say about this Monday’s matchup…


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Baltimore: 3-7 (#22 schedule according to Sagarin)

Cleveland: 2-8 (#5 schedule according to Sagarin)

Cleveland can at least point to a very tough schedule here. And, Luke McCown was starting before he got hurt. We know that he wants to win his job back for good…and that he’s going to bring peak intensity. Will Matt Schaub be able to inspire his teammates in what’s become a throw-away season? How do you deal with the “pitching matchup” of Schaub vs. McCown?



Baltimore: 5.4 on offense, 5.5 on defense

Cleveland: 5.2 on offense, 6.2 on defense

Remember the strengths of schedule here. Baltimore was barely negative, but that came against an easy schedule. Cleveland was consistently outclassed by quality…but isn’t playing quality Monday night. You have to assume that Schaub won’t improve on Flacco’s numbers. Cleveland may not take much of a hit because McCown when healthy is better than erratic Manziel.


Turnover Differential

Baltimore: -8

Cleveland: -5

Disasters for both teams. Flacco ceased being elite again. Who would have thought the Baltimore/San Francisco Super Bowl would have seen both QB’s fall so far afterward? Definitely a monkey wrench for trusting either side. One big reason this is a difficult game to pick is because either side can self-destruct with mistakes.


Market Performance

Baltimore: 1-7-2 ATS  

Cleveland: 4-6 ATS

Baltimore’s been the most overrated team in the NFL this season. They were supposed to be a playoff contender…now they’re possibly ready to tank for the draft. Cleveland is far from a money team…but looks like value in comparison.


Current Line: Cleveland by 3, total of 41

Home field advantage is typically worth three points in the NFL. Though, sometimes oddsmakers go with 2.5 in divisional games since visitors are familiar with the surroundings. The market here is suggesting Cleveland with McCown is either even with or slightly better than Baltimore with Schaub. The stats only go so far here. Handicappers must really determine WHO’S GOING TO CARE!

What if both are trying to tank for the draft? Maybe that’s an Under bet. What if Baltimore’s thrown in the towel while McCown is aiming to have the game of his life? Cleveland’s a virtual lock then. What if Schaub wants to remind everyone what he can do while Cleveland’s sick of their coach blaming everybody else? Baltimore blowout?

JIM HURLEY’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach was designed just for this kind of challenge. INFORMATION WINS! Our on-site sources will tell us what we need to know about the mindset of both teams. Our statheads will tweak the numbers you’ve just seen to account for the quarterback changes. Our computer programmers will put it all together to run the most accurate game simulation. Then, NETWORK clients will GET THE MONEY!

You can always purchase the BEST BETS on the board right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Monday. We have great rates that take you through the college football national championship and the NFL’s Super Bowl, so be sure you check on the value-priced packages. And, remember to ask about adding basketball to any football program!

Back with you midweek for more football analysis. Here’s what’s on tap in the coming days…

Midweek: NFL TV Preview…Green Bay at Detroit

Friday-Saturday: College Football Conference Championship Preview

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Indianapolis at Pittsburgh

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Dallas at Washington

Oh great…another rivalry game next Monday night with one bad team and maybe two! The good news is that oddsmakers have real troubles when bad teams square off in December. When oddsmakers struggle, NETWORK is at its most dangerous. Keep reading the NOTEBOOK for handicapping tips…then hook up with JIM HURLEY for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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