San Diego Chargers (2-5) at Baltimore Ravens (1-6)
The Ravens have had a brutal start to their season, losing 6 of their first 7 games. However, they’ve been on the road in 5 of those 7 games and they’re typically a better team at home. They are 47-13 at home since 2008, outscoring their opponents by an average of 9.87 points per game, as opposed to 36-38 on the road, outscoring their opponents by an average of just 0.80 points per game. They’re also 22-14 ATS at home as underdogs or favorites of a touchdown or less over that time period, as they are here, though just 0-2 ATS during this tough season.
However, they’re going into a bye here. That might sound like a good thing, but it’s not,as counterintuitive as that might seem. Big home favorites (6+) typically do very well before a bye (59-20 ATS since 2002), but, for whatever reason, small home favorites like the Redskins are here do not. Teams who are favored by 1-5.5 points at home going into the bye are just 37-61 ATS over that aforementioned time period, as they tend to get caught looking forward to the bye. The Chargers are in a better spot, with a relatively easy home game against the Bears on deck.
We’re also getting a significant amount of line value with the Chargers. Neither one of these teams has a good record, but, while the Ravens rank 27th in rate of moving the chains differential, the Chargers are much better than their record, ranking 8th. The Chargers’ defense isn’t very good, but their offense leads the NFL in first downs and yards. They’ve come close to beating both Green Bay and Cincinnati on the road this season and have won the rate of moving the chains battle in 5 of 7 games, including in Green Bay, arguably the toughest place in the NFL to play. Getting more than a field goal with them in Baltimore, against a Ravens team that’s in a bad spot, is a complete steal.
The only reason I’m a little hesitant taking the Chargers is because they’re pretty banged up. Left guard Orlando Franklin, middle linebackers Manti Te’o and Denzel Perryman, tight end Antonio Gates, and safety Eric Weddle are all expected out for this one. Weddle’s injury is especially important because he’s one of the best safeties in the league and doesn’t have much talent around him on San Diego’s defense. Oakland moved the chains pretty easily against them last week in Weddle’s first game missed with injury. Baltimore is pretty banged up too though, obviously still missing edge rusher Terrell Suggs for the year, but are also still missing wide receiver Breshad Perriman and now are once again missing left tackle Eugene Monroe. Their offensive line really struggled without him early in the season. I’m still confident enough in the Chargers to make them by Pick of the Week.
San Diego Chargers 24 Baltimore Ravens 20 Upset Pick +160
Pick against the spread: San Diego +3.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week