Ravens have trends in their favor
21st December 2018

Saturday night’s Ravens-Chargers game is so much of a “Trendnado” that Ian Ziering and Tara Reid might as well show up for the coin flip. Quite a few trends favor Baltimore: The Ravens are 8-1-1 against the spread in their past 10 road games versus teams on winning streaks of four or more. The Chargers are 2-5 ATS at home this season and 0-7 ATS at home in their past seven games versus AFC North teams.

Do current factors trump those archival numbers? Philip Rivers willing his team to victory in Kansas City without Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler may have elevated the Chargers to an entirely new level, and Gordon and Allen are expected back to face the Ravens’ No. 1 defense.

The Ravens are 4-1 straight up and 3-2 ATS with Lamar Jackson at quarterback. All five of his opponents rank in the bottom nine in the NFL defensively, while the Chargers rank eighth. Tough call, but the Ravens will be ready for a street fight and L.A. is a candidate for a bit of a letdown.

The pick: Ravens, +4½.

Redskins (+10) over TITANS: It isn’t that Josh Johnson was so great in the Redskins’ 16-13 win at Jacksonville, but the fact he isn’t Mark Sanchez reinvigorated the rest of the team, particularly the defense. Huge number to lay with Titans’ ground-based, 27th-ranked offense.


Giants (+9½) over COLTS: Eli Manning will perk up at Lucas Oil Stadium, where he once won a Super Bowl MVP and his brother ruled. The Giants have covered in their past six road games. The only other time the Colts were favored by more than a touchdown this season, they needed a late touchdown to squeak by the Dolphins.

JETS (+3) over Packers: Aaron Rodgers says he’ll play, but with a sore groin, he could be a bit of a sitting duck for the Jets’ blitz-from-anywhere pass rush that decked Deshaun Watson six times. This will be another challenging game for Sam Darnold, as the Packers come in with 41 sacks and will have a lot of fans at MetLife.

Buccaneers (+7) over COWBOYS: Dallas got quite a reality check last week, as a 23-0 loss at Indianapolis stopped a streak of 5-0 SU and ATS. The Bucs’ scoring has decreased each of the past four games, and they’ve hung tough lately versus the Saints and Ravens.

Bills (+13) over PATRIOTS: Bills had to take some confidence from their 25-6 home loss to the Patriots in late October. They lost the cover on a late pick-six. Now the Patriots are reeling and Josh Allen, who didn’t play in that game, is back. This should be another struggle for Tom Brady, now without Josh Gordon.

PANTHERS (+3½) over Falcons: This line flipped when Cam Newton was ruled out. Defenses knew Newton couldn’t throw deep or run too far anyway, so maybe offensive coordinator Norv Turner can accomplish just as much with replacement Taylor Heinecke.

DOLPHINS (-4) over Jaguars: The Dolphins had covered three in a row before last week’s blowout loss at Minnesota. You have to go back as far as Week 2 to find three Jaguars covers.

EAGLES (-1¹/₂) over Texans: It’s easy to get fixated on the players the Eagles are missing, but bet against them and you realize, “Oh, they still have Ertz and Jeffery and Tate and Sproles and Cox” and on and on. defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz surely went to school on how the Jets pressured Watson last week.

Vikings (-6) over LIONS: The Vikings put up 41 on the Dolphins in their first game after firing their offensive coordinator by stressing their meat-grinder running game. The out-of-it Lions might not be up for such hand-to-hand combat.

Bengals (+9) over BROWNS: Though Cleveland crushed Hue Jackson and the Bengals, 35-20, last month in Cincinnati, this is a ton of points to be giving with the Browns, and Cincy has covered its past two with Jeff Driskel at quarterback.

CARDINALS (+14) over Rams: L.A. has averaged just 14.5 points the past two games after breaking scoreboards all over the NFL. Sean McVay may want to run up the score to get some mojo back heading into the postseason, but with Todd Gurley ailing, that will be harder to do.

49ERS (+4) over Bears: The Niners are coming off home wins over Denver and Seattle. Willing to take them again as home underdogs. The Bears’ speed players may have problems on that slick mess of a field.

SAINTS (-5¹/₂) over Steelers: Drew Brees is back in his happy place in the Superdome after the Saints went 2-1 on a three-week road trip, but averaged just 16.7 ppg. JuJu Smith-Schuster’s groin injury Thursday makes it harder to go with the Steelers here.

SEAHAWKS (+2 ¹/₂) over Chiefs: K.C. scored 27 and 28 the past two games (albeit versus the Ravens and Chargers) after putting up 30 or more in 10 of the first 12 games. There’s an opening for the Seahawks on likely a wet field in prime time in front of the 12th Man.


RAIDERS (+3) over Broncos: The Raiders will be summoning all of the ghosts of the Black Hole in what possibly will be their last game in Oakland. Derek Carr led recent home covers against the Chiefs and Steelers, and Denver has problems in the secondary.

Best bets: Raiders, Bills, 49ers.
Lock of the week: Raiders (Locks 10-4-1 in 2018).
Last week: 6-10 overall, 0-3 Best Bets.

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