Baltimore Ravens (2-0) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) in London
The Ravens have been the most banged up team in the league all season in terms of number of guys on injured reserve, but they have managed to start the season 2-0. That’s partially because of weak competition (Cincinnati and Cleveland), but the big reason is simply that the Ravens hadn’t lost anyone irreplaceable. That changed when right guard Marshal Yanda broke his ankle against the Browns, ending his season. Yanda is arguably the best right guard in football, so that’s an enormous blow to this offense. The Ravens will also be without talented defensive lineman Brandon Williams in this one with injury.
Despite that, this line is still at 4 because casual bettors don’t pay attention to injuries as much as they should. This is on a neutral field in London, suggesting the Ravens would be full touchdown favorites if this game was played in Baltimore. That’s just a half point less than they were favored by against the Browns, who are significantly less talented than the Jaguars, and that was before Yanda and Williams went down. The Ravens covered that spread in 14-point victory, but the Browns had numerous opportunities to cut it to a single touchdown late because the Ravens couldn’t move the ball after Yanda got hurt. That was against a weak Cleveland defense. Jacksonville’s defense is one of the best in the league.
The Ravens were able to stop Cleveland’s comeback attempts with takeaways, but they won’t be able to rely on that every week. The Ravens lead the league with 10 takeaways and a +7 turnover margin right now, but unfortunately turnovers tend to be very inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Teams that win the turnover battle by 3 like the Ravens did last week, on average, have a +0.0 turnover margin the following week. The Ravens are on pace for 80 takeaways and a +56 turnover margin, both of which would blow away the all-time records. Even if the Ravens do end up finishing near the top in both of those categories, their pace will slow down considerably going forward and that will be noticable on the field.
The Jaguars opened their season with a +4 turnover margin in Houston, but returned home last week and posted a -2 turnover margin. They had similar first down rate differentials in the two games (+0.22% week 1, -3.00% week 2), but the games had completely different results because of turnover margins, as Jacksonville won by 22 in Houston and lost by 21 at home to Tennessee. With Yanda and Williams out for the Ravens, these two teams are about equal. The Ravens have a slightly better offense, but the Jaguars have the better defense. This line shouldn’t be any higher than 1, so we’re getting at least a field goal of line value with the Jaguars. About 30% of games are decided by 4 points or fewer, so I like the Jaguars chances of keeping this one close and they have a decent shot to pull the upset as well.
Baltimore Ravens 17 Jacksonville Jaguars 16
Pick against the spread: Jacksonville +4
Confidence: Pick of the Week