Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-1)
The Chiefs won last week, but they had a significantly lower first down rate (42.11% vs. 34.43%) and yards per play (8.16 vs. 6.51) than their opponent, winning primarily because of the turnover margin, which is a significantly less predictive metric. However, the Chiefs were facing a Browns team that could be one of the best in the league and they were doing it without a pair of key defenders, Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu, who are expected back this week.
This week, the Chiefs get a Ravens team that is as banged up as any team in the league. They lost their top-3 running backs for the season before the year began, as well as starting cornerback Marcus Peters, while key offensive players Nick Boyle and Rashod Bateman are missing the start of the season on injured reserve and starting defensive lineman Derek Wolfe is week-to-week and once again out for this game. The Ravens lost week one in Las Vegas and now will also be without key left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is also hurt.
However, I still think we are getting a little line value with the Ravens, who I have calculated as 3-point home underdogs. Even as banged up as they are, they still shouldn’t be home underdogs of more than a field goal against anyone, as there is still a lot of talent on this team. I think there are two reasons they are being underrated this week. One is their loss to the Raiders last week, which was predictable given that the Ravens were travelling cross country for a night game in the first game against in the new Las Vegas stadium with Ravens.
The other reason the Ravens are being underrated is the history between Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, with Mahomes taking all three matchups previously. I’m not sure how much that matters though, given the small sample size and the fact that two of the matchups were one-score games. Prior to the Ravens beating the Titans in the post-season last year, it was believed that the Ravens couldn’t beat the Titans because they had struggled in previous matchups against them, but that proved to not be true. The Titans aren’t the Chiefs, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Ravens were at least very competitive in this game.
If anything, their recent history with the Chiefs could just provide more motivation for the Ravens, who will also be hungry to avenge last week’s embarrassing loss. There isn’t quite enough here to confidently bet this banged up Ravens team as 4-point underdogs, but I expect a better showing than a week ago and for the Ravens to at least keep it close against a Chiefs team that has played a lot of close games dating back to last season.
Kansas City Chiefs 30 Baltimore Ravens 27
Pick against the spread: Baltimore +4