Last season, BetOnline patrons may recall, the Baltimore Ravens were an offensive machine. They led the league with 41.8 yards per drive, and they were the only team in the NFL to score more than three points on a per-drive basis. They also scored touchdowns on 67% of their red zone trips, which was second only to the Tennessee Titans, who were a rampaging crew inside the 20-yard line behind Ryan Tannehill.
From 2019, when they accomplished all this, and 2020, there has been a precipitous dip. How far have some of the numbers fallen? Let’s put it this way – the New England Patriots, their opponents on Sunday Night Football, who have been harangued for their lack of offensive punch, have actually gained more yards per drive than they have (39.4 to 31.2). That yardage figure for the Ravens is just 27th in the NFL.
Granted, that’s not as big of a problem if the Ravens can play some fierce defense. But it’s the kind of thing that could get worse, and certainly handcuff them come playoff time. Earlier this season they faced the Kansas City Chiefs, presumably one of the teams they will have to overcome if they want to get to the Super Bowl, and Lamar Jackson, last year’s Most Valuable Player, was held below 100 yards passing.
Now, after having lost Hall of Fame-bound guard Marshall Yanda to retirement in the off-season, they will have to go the rest of the way without All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Staley, who has suffered an ankle injury.
So what’s the outlook as they face off against the Pats, who have seen their defensive numbers drop across the board? Well, let’s examine that, within the context of an NFL prop at BetOnline, which presents football bettors a choice as to Baltimore’s individual team total in the Sunday night encounter:
Over 24.5 Points -125
Under 24.5 Points -105
In the process of performing some of my due diligence for this game, I came across some very intriguing quotes made by Jackson, who finds himself facing off against another Heisman Trophy winner and league MVP (Cam Newton) in front of the NBC cameras.
He had told reporters that the Baltimore offense had gotten “too predictable” and that opposing defenses were actually able to call out their plays at the line of scrimmage during games. This seemed highly unusual – that a player would say something like that in public.
Offensive coordinator Greg Roman, who I greatly respect and who did the same thing for Jackson that he did for Colin Kaepernick for that Super Bowl season in San Francisco, reacted in such a way that one could easily interpret it as ‘denial’.
But it is kind of believable, because when you think about it, the recent history of quarterbacks in the NFL who rely a great deal on running the football is that sooner or later they get “found out.” And that is why many of them are ultimately transformed into dropback passers.
Jackson is greatly reliant upon tight ends and running backs when it comes to throwing it. if you go by the numbers, his wide receivers, as a group, are the least threatening in pro football. They have 991 total yards – last in the NFL. The problem is such that there had been some talk about taking recently-signed Dez Bryant off the practice squad and activating him – something that isn’t going to happen this week.
And the basic philosophy of the Ravens’ offense has not changed, in the sense that they are running the ball more than half the time (52.9%, to be exact).
We acknowledge that there might be some urban legend here, but when you think of Bill Belichick, you think of a guy who is revered for his ability to take away the strongest weapons on the part of the opposition. And if you want to take it even further, we have heard for years about Belichick’s “intelligence” capabilities, as well as the head games he has sometimes been able to play against John Harbaugh, and you have to wonder whether the Pats couldn’t keep the Ravens’ offense off-balance all night, if they put forth an inspired effort.
Take note that we may say All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore in action for the Pats, after he missed a couple of games.
For this particular prop, we’re going to go UNDER 24.5 at the -105 price.
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