Baltimore Ravens (2-1) at Washington Mascots (1-2)
The Ravens lost at home to the Chiefs last week 34-20 in a game that was not nearly as close as the final score suggested. The Ravens got 11 points of benefit from special teams, returning a kick, while the Chiefs missed an extra point and a makeable field goal, and the Ravens’ offense didn’t actually get into the end zone themselves until the fourth quarter. Overall, the Ravens lost the first down rate battle by 14.50%, not only their worst single game regular season performance since Lamar Jackson took over as the starter in the middle of the 2018 season, but also their third loss to the Chiefs over that stretch, accounting for all but one of their regular season losses.
The Ravens are also 0-2 in the playoffs, but their 2018 loss came before Lamar Jackson developed as a passer, and their 2019 loss to the Titans was largely decided by the Ravens going 0 for 4 on 4th down and having a -3 turnover margin, two very inconsistent metrics and very uncharacteristic for the Ravens over the past couple years. The Ravens did lose the first down rate battle in that game, but only by 3.24% and it came against a red hot Titans team. Prior to last week, that playoff game was the Ravens’ only first down rate battle loss since week 9 of 2019, a now 13-game stretch in which they have 9 wins by at least 16 points and 7 wins by at least 10% in first down rate differential. Even including last week’s embarrassing loss, albeit to one of the top teams in the league, the Ravens are still on a very impressive stretch right now.
I like their chances of picking up another blowout victory this week, playing a team that is one of the worst in the league when healthy and that is now missing arguably it’s top player on both sides of the ball, guard Brandon Scherff on offense and edge defender Chase Young on defense. The Ravens are also in a great spot, with only another easy game against the Bengals on deck, while Washington has another tough game on deck against the Rams.
Favorites of 7+ are 102-59 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 7+ again, while underdogs of 7+ are 55-90 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 7+ again. Combining the two, favorites of 7+ are 27-5 ATS since 2012 before being favorites of 7+ again when their opponent will be underdogs of 7+ again the following week. Good teams tend to take care of business against bad teams without upcoming distractions on their schedule, while bad teams tend to struggle to keep it close against good teams with another tough game on deck. All of those conditions should be true this week.
This game is in Washington, but with no fans in attendance and the Ravens only coming from about an hour away in Baltimore, it’s hard to see any real homefield advantage in this game, so, while this line may seem high at 14, it’s arguably a little low. Given that, and the great spot the Ravens are in, I like the Ravens’ chances a lot of making this a blowout. My only concerns are that the Ravens hold out injured players like left tackle Ronnie Stanley, Jimmy Smith, and Derek Wolfe against an easy opponent and/or they take their foot off the gas in the second half and allow a backdoor cover, although that’s probably less likely with the Ravens needing to get right after last week. This is a medium confidence play for now, but if all the aforementioned players are active, I may increase this bet tomorrow morning.
Baltimore Ravens 30 Washington Mascots 10
Pick against the spread: Baltimore -14