Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at New England Patriots (10-2)
The Patriots are a very interesting team. Despite being without Tom Brady for the first 4 games of the season, they rank 2nd in first down rate. Since Brady returned, they are 7-1 with 6 of 7 wins by double digits. However, they have had a very easy schedule over those 8 games. Aside from Seattle, who beat them by a touchdown in New England, their toughest game since Brady’s return was in Buffalo. Yes, they can only play the teams that are on their schedule and they’ve done pretty well in doing so, as most of the wins have come by convincing margins, but Jamie Collins is in Cleveland, Rob Gronkowski is on injured reserve, and it’s fair to wonder how good they really are. We’ll find out a lot this week as they host the Baltimore Ravens, who are a step up in class from most of the teams the Patriots have faced in recent weeks.
After largely playing close games all season, the Ravens got their biggest win by margin of victory since 2009 last week, with a 38-6 home victory over a capable Miami team. It was out of character for this team, but boosted them to 12nd in first down rate differential and moved this line from 10 on the early line last week to 6.5 this week. As a result, we’re not getting good line value with the Ravens. However, the Ravens are in a good spot with an easy home game against the Eagles on deck, while the Patriots have to go to Denver next week. Underdogs of 6 or more points are 41-31 ATS since 2008 before being favorites of 6 or more the following week, which the Ravens are expected to be, according to the early line. It’s a no confidence pick at 6.5, but the Ravens are the pick for pick ‘em purposes.
New England Patriots 24 Baltimore Ravens 19
Pick against the spread: Baltimore +6.5