What do LeBron James, the Los Angeles Rams and the Baltmore Ravens all have in common? All of them left Cleveland. Long before Art Modell, there was Dan Reeves, owner of the Cleveland Rams. In 1945, the Rams, led by rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield, husband of movie star Jane Russell, downed the Washington Redskins 15-14 in the NFL Championship Game. Less than a month later, Reeves did what James just did, departing Cleveland and taking his Rams to Los Angeles to become the NFL's first West Coast team.
Luckily for the football fans of Cleveland, a new new league, the All-American Football Conference, formed in 1946 and the dominant franchise was the Cleveland Browns. They won every league title and in 1950, were absorbed into the NFL. Between 1950-69, the Browns played in 11 NFL title games, winning four of them. But by 1995 they were still playing in decrepit Cleveland Stadium, and owner Art Modell opted to move the franchise to Baltimore to become the Ravens.
The Browns never won a Super Bowl in Cleveland, but they've won the big game twice in Baltimore. The Rams have never won a Super Bowl in Los Angeles, but during a 20-year hiatus to St. Louis from 1995-2015, the St. Louis Rams did win a Super Bowl. In fact, the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV and one year later, the Ravens won their first Super Bowl in Super Bowl XXXV.
Who Owns The Rams? - Well, the Ravens do, at least in Baltimore. The Ravens have taken all three games from the Rams played in Baltimore, and they've done it via a variety of fashions. Most recently, they scored a 16-13 verdict in 2015. The Ravens thrashed the Rams 37-7 in 2011 and in 1996, were 37-31 winners in overtime. All of those games were against the St. Louis Rams. The Los Angeles Rams and the Ravens have never met on the football field before.
The Waiting Is The Hardest Part - It was Sept. 21, 1969, the opening week of the last pro football season in which there would be two leagues - the NFL and AFL - and the Los Angeles Rams were in Baltimore to face the Colts. The game was tied in the fourth quarter when the Rams recovered a fumble by Colts running back Preston Pearson. Rams QB Roman Gabriel threw his third touchdown pass of the game and the Rams won 27-20. Why the history lesson? Well, that was the most recent victory posted by the Rams in Baltimore.
A FourPeat - While it's true that the Ravens have dominated the Rams in regular-season games played at Baltimore, the opposite is the case when it comes to preseason meeetings between the two teams. The Rams are 4-0, although it again should be noted that it was the St. Louis Rams and all four games were played in St. Louis. But when we say dominant, we mean it. In the four victories, the Rams never scored less than 24 points a game, and they outscored the Ravens 106-69. Only one game was decided by a single-digit margin.
The Guff About Goff - The Rams' Jared Goff was one of a number of young quarterbacks who made their mark on the league last season, and the sportsbooks took notice. Bovada lists Goff as their co-13th choice in their NFL MVP future book at +3000. You'll also find some love for Rams running back Todd Gurley. He led the NFL in all-purpose yards last season with 2093 and is listed at +4000 to be the winner of the MVP award. But just one running back, Adrian Peterson in 2012, has won the award in the past 11 years.
Flacco Flak - No one is embracing Joe Flacco as having MVP potential, however. Bovada has set Flacco's odds of winning at +7500, and even in Baltimore, you won't find many takers for that wager. Flacco's yards per completion of 57.2 was the worst among NFL starters last season. Even though he's a Super Bowl winner, Flacco is under scrutiny, and with first-round pick Lamar Jackson breathing down his neck, some are already speculating by which holiday - Labor Day? Thanksgiving? Christmas? - Flacco will have lost his job.
Is Jimmy Dandy? - A major concern for the Ravens playoff hopes this season will center around the health of cornerback Jimmy Smith, along with linebacker Terrell Suggs the cornerstones of the Baltimore defense. Smith suffered a torn Achilles tendon late last season and that's an injury that can be career-ending at a speed position such as cornerback. Smith contributed 114 tackles, 23 passes defensed, and six interceptions over the last three seasons, but he's also missed 17 games due to injury in the last four years.
Thunder Foot - When wagering on Ravens games, it's always wise to keep in mind that in Justin Tucker, they suit up the best kicker in the NFL. Tucker attempted seven field goals of 50 yards or more in 2017, and connected on five of them. He's hit 33 of 50 or longer in his career. On a team that's scored the eighth-fewest TDs in the NFL over the past six seasons, Tucker is Baltimore's most reliable offensive performer. He leads all active NFL kickers in accuracy (90.2 percent) and field goals made (202).
Talking Super Bowl - After an 11-5 division-winning season, the Rams are garnering a lot of Super Bowl love. Bovada slots the Rams in as their fourth choice to win it all in their Super Bowl LIII future book at +1100. But after three successive non-playoff years, you'll go a long way down that list before you come across the Ravens. Bovada has Baltimore at +5500, the same number they've assigned to the Detroit Lions, a team that's never played in a Super Bowl and fired their coach after last season.
Other Wagers - Bovada has set the win total for the Rams at 10. Over will get you odds of -105 and playing the under brings you odds of -125. The Ravens are set at eight wins, and whether you wager over or under, the odds assigned to the bet are -115. Bovada also pegs the Rams as the -130 favorites to win the NFC West. The Ravens are listed as second choice to win the AFC North at +400, well behind the -260 assigned to the Pittsburgh Steelers.