Washington Redskins (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (3-1)
This is a line that doesn’t make a ton of sense, as the Ravens are mere 3.5 point home favorites for the Redskins. The Ravens are 3-1 on the thanks to 3 straight wins to start the season. None of those opponents were tough though, as they faced the Bills, Browns, and Jaguars, and all 3 games were close. On top of that, last week they lost at home against easily the best team they’ve faced thus far, the Oakland Raiders. However, that game was close as well (1 point) and the Ravens still rank 5th in rate of first down percentage differential.
On top of that, their opponents this week, the Washington Redskins, are much closer in talent level to the first 3 teams the Ravens faced than they are to the Raiders, who are a legitimate playoff team this season. The Redskins have a talented offense, but rank dead last in first down percentage allowed on defense, largely as a result of the worst run defense in the league. Free agent acquisition Josh Norman is playing well at cornerback, but the rest of the secondary has been terrible, largely thanks to injuries to #2 cornerback Bashaud Breeland, #3 cornerback Dashaun Phillips, and top safety DeAngelo Hall, all of whom remain out.
Overall, they rank 30th in first down percentage differential, only ahead of the Browns and Rams. They played the former last week and allowed a whopping 26 first downs in a game that was a lot closer than the final score suggested. There’s not quite enough for me to put money on the Ravens this week, but that will change if the line moves to a field goal before gametime. On average, about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Even still, this line is too low at 3.5 and the Ravens are the pick.
Baltimore Ravens 23 Washington Redskins 17
Pick against the spread: Baltimore -3.5