I believe Baltimore is the most disrespected team in the AFC – and it is not close.
Before Thanksgiving Thursday, the Ravens were listed as 3 point favourites this week against Detroit. The Lions got dominated by the Vikings, and the Ravens held their own against the Texans.
I expected bookmakers to adjust and move to Baltimore -3 1/2. Instead, the line reopens a very soft Baltimore -3 EV.
Baltimore is a tough team to explain. The Ravens defense is extremely athletic and aggressive. They generate pressure at a high rate, but it is magnified even higher by the aggression they deploy. There is a feeling when they line up that every pass rush can end up in a turnover.
There is just something about watching this defense that is different than any other in the league.
Offensively Baltimore is a different story. This team is frustrating beyond belief. The best play the Ravens ran against Houston on Monday was a sweep to the right on 3rd and 8. Joe Flacco has options to pass to, but he is reserved and seems content with being a game manager instead of a game-changing quarterback.
What makes Baltimore interesting to me is despite all of the distaste and lack of interest from bettors. The Ravens occupy an AFC Wildcard spot despite being listed at 50/1 to win the conference.
Baltimore is also the only playoff team with a positive win expectation of a full game or more.
I do not know what becomes of Baltimore, but down the stretch, I am comfortable backing them against teams they can make uncomfortable. I believe they can do this to Detroit on Sunday.
The most prominent effect the Ravens defense can have on Detroit is through the pace of play. Detroit runs no huddle nearly 40% of the time when they are at home. Just being on the road drops that no-huddle rate all the way down to 15%. Against Baltimore, I predict it to be even lower. Few teams play as methodically and require as much pre-snap adjustment as the Ravens.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford is most comfortable in the no huddle up pace offense. On the fly, his passer rating is 110. Coming out of the huddle, it drops to just 60.
Add in the pressure and frustration the Ravens produce; it will be a tough outdoor game for Stafford who is just 5-63 in his career against teams with winning records.
In my opinion, Detroit is one of the most overpriced teams in the league. The Lions do not rank in the Top 20 for NetYPP, offensive efficiency nor defensive efficiency despite playing a mediocre 15th ranked schedule.
I think that Baltimore can follow the same game plan Minnesota employed on Thanksgiving and pick on the weak coverage linebackers on the Lions defense.
Joe Flacco has a significantly higher passer rating on attempts 10 yards or less, and as long as he stays patient and takes what the Lions give him, he and the offense will have success.
I am happy to oppose the market support overpaying for the Lions and take the Ravens at a discounted price. Instead of laying the 3 points, I will take the cheap money line at 1.77.