Kansas City Chiefs (8-5) at Baltimore Ravens (5-8)
This has been the season from hell for the Ravens. After going 11-5, winning a playoff game, and finishing the season 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential a year ago, the Ravens lost outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, wide receiver Torrey Smith, and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak this off-season. And then during the season, they’ve lost 1st round pick wide receiver (and Torrey Smith replacement) Breshad Perriman, wide receiver Steve Smith, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, center Jeremy Zuttah, offensive tackle Eugene Monroe, quarterback Joe Flacco, and running back Justin Forsett for the season with injury.
As a result, they are 5-8, rank 29th in rate of moving the chains differential, and are even less talented than that suggests. In the 3 games since losing Flacco and Forsett, they’ve moved the chains at a 64.77% rate, as opposed to 68.95% in their previous 10 games. Matt Schaub will start for the Ravens this week, after a one week absence with his own injury. He’ll be an upgrade over Jimmy Clausen, who started last week, but not by much and talented tight end Crockett Gillmore now could be out for the season with a back injury. Even if he’s not, he’ll miss his 2nd straight game with injury this week, leaving Schaub with little talent around him on offense, not exactly a recipe for success. The Ravens’ defense is capable, but this is arguably the least talented offense in the NFL right now.
Still, this line does seem high at 6.5, in favor of the visiting Chiefs. The Chiefs rank 10th in rate of moving the chains differential and are missing their top defensive player, Justin Houston, with injury. 2014 1st round pick Dee Ford has played well over the past 2 games in his absence, but Houston is borderline impossible to replace so his absence is definitely still notable. The Ravens are also in a solid spot, as teams are 76-52 ATS as home underdogs off of a home loss, since 2002.
However, the Chiefs are in a great spot, hosting the lowly Browns next week, against whom they’re expected to be favored by 11.5 points, while the Ravens host the Steelers. Teams are 92-65 ATS since 2012 as road favorites before being favored again, if their opponent will be underdogs again the following week. All other road favorites are 71-95 ATS over that time period. Going further, favorites of 6+ are 81-43 ATS before being favored by 6+ points again, since 2012, as superior teams tend to take care of business and win big when they don’t have an upcoming distraction. I could go either way on this one, but I’ll take the Chiefs as long as the line is under a touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs 17 Baltimore Ravens 10
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -6.5