Baltimore Ravens (1-1) at New England Patriots (1-1)
The Patriots have been my Pick of the Week in each of the first two weeks of the season because I thought they were an underrated team coming into the season and that we were getting good value with them in each of the first two weeks. They lost in Miami week 1 by a score of 20-7 as 3.5-point underdogs, but likely would have covered if not for a -3 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of yards per play and first down rate differential, the Patriots were about even with Miami at +0.85% and -0.18.
Last week, the Patriots won and covered as 2-point favorites in Pittsburgh and, while they weren’t as impressive in Pittsburgh as I was expecting, their loss to the Dolphins looked better when Miami came from behind and scored six touchdowns in a win in Baltimore, a week after the Patriots’ defense held the Dolphins’ offense to one touchdown, which they also did to an admittedly underwhelming Pittsburgh offense. The Patriots’ offense has been underwhelming, ranking 23rd in offensive efficiency, but their defense ranks 7th in efficiency and their offense has the talent to be better going forward, especially since they figure to play easier defenses going forward, with both the Steelers and Dolphins possessing solid defensive units.
The Ravens figure to be significantly easier to move the ball against. A year after finishing 28th in defensive efficiency, a Ravens turnaround on defense in 2022 seemed very possible, given that they were likely to be healthier, but thus far they have continued to deal with injury issues and have continued to struggle defensively, ranking 27th in defensive efficiency, in large part due to their performance in that aforementioned loss to the Dolphins last week. Despite that, the Ravens are field goal favorites in New England, once again giving us good line value with the Patriots, who I have calculated as 2.5-point home favorites. On top of that, the Ravens are in a tough spot this week, with a tougher game against the Bills on deck that could provide a distraction. Once again, the Patriots are going to be my top pick this week. The money line is worth betting as well.
New England Patriots 23 Baltimore Ravens 20 Upset Pick +140
Pick against the spread: New England +3
Confidence: Pick of the Week