Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1) at Baltimore Ravens (6-6)
The Ravens won at home last week against the Steelers, but did not cover. However, you could definitely argue they deserved to cover. They scored 6 times (1 touchdown, 5 field goals), as opposed to 3 times for Pittsburgh (3 touchdowns) and still could have covered if they had scored a touchdown on a Jacoby Jones kickoff return that Mike Tomlin “accidentally” interfered with. They punted just one time all game.
Failing to cover against the Steelers is nothing new though as they seem to have had their number recently. Since the start of the Joe Flacco/John Harbaugh era in 2008, the Steelers have covered 5 times in Baltimore (as opposed to one Baltimore cover), including 3 times as favorites or underdogs of 7 or fewer. Ordinarily, the Ravens are dominant as home underdogs or home favorites of 7 or fewer in the Joe Flacco/John Harbaugh era.
With the exception of games against the Steelers, who seem to have their number, the Ravens are 18-5 ATS at home as long as they aren’t favored by more than a touchdown. That’s the case here as the Ravens are favored by a touchdown. That might seem like a lot of points, but you could easily argue this line is too low, even before you consider the Ravens’ home dominance and any other situational factors.
The Ravens are playing better football now than at the start of the season. Their defense is still dominant, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 69% rate, and their offense is coming around, moving the chains at a 71% rate. That differential is 11th in the NFL. They’ll be even better if they get Dennis Pitta back this week from injury, which would give them a much needed reliable 2nd weapon, something they haven’t had all season. He’s considered questionable at this point.
The Vikings, meanwhile, are one of the worst teams in the NFL, moving the chains at a 73% rate, as opposed to 79% for their opponents, a differential that is 29th in the NFL. That suggests this line should be around 8, instead of 7. Again, that’s before you even consider the Ravens’ home dominance and any other situational factors. What situational factors are at play here? Well, the Ravens will be significantly more rested than the Vikings. The Vikings are coming off of a 2nd straight overtime game, including a tie and a game that almost went to a tie. That’s essentially 10 quarters of football in a 2 week stretch. I don’t have any numbers that show that’s a huge negative thing because it happens so infrequently, but it can’t help.
The Ravens, meanwhile, are coming off of a Thursday night game, so they’ll have extra rest before this one. Teams generally cover more often than not off of a Thursday night game, going 75-58 ATS since 2008. That percentage is higher when the team has been at home the whole time, for obvious reasons. Teams are 26-16 ATS since 1989 at home off of a Thursday night home game. This is a very cushy spot for the Ravens here, while the Vikings could be running on fumes. Since 1989, teams are 15-7 ATS off of a Thursday night game when their opponent is coming off of an overtime game. The Ravens should blow the Vikings out easily here. They are also my survivor pick.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Minnesota Vikings 10 Survivor Pick
Pick against spread: Baltimore -7