Record: 27-20-1 (+10.93u)
Last: (NFL) Indianapolis Colts +3 (1U) – W
POTD: (NFL) Baltimore Ravens 1H (-4) at New England Patriots
Start Time: 8:20 PM ET
Odds: -105 (Bovada)
Reasoning: As much as the Grinch loves hating Christmas, and as much as Kel Mitchell loves orange soda (he does he does he does does does), Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson just loves covering first half spreads.
Over the last two seasons, the 23-year-old boasts a 1H ATS of 18-5-1, covering the spread by an average margin of +4.46. More impressively, when given a first-half spread of -4 or more, Jackson is 10-0-1 ATS (5-0 this season) and has covered the spread by an average margin of +8.64 points. Through eight games, Baltimore ranks fifth in first-half scoring, averaging 16.6 points while ranking first in first-half scoring defense, conceding an average off 8.8 points. If you took away the 27 first-half points given up to the Kansas City Chiefs in that Week 3 shellacking, the Ravens have only allowed 44 first-half points (6.29 per game) in their other seven contests combined.
Meanwhile, the Patriots have struggled in the first half of games recently, posting a porous 1H ATS of 3-10-1 dating back to Week 12 of last season (3-4-1 this season), failing to cover the number by an average margin of -7.25. The team ranks dead last this season in first-half scoring (7.4 points per game) and have averaged just 6.3 first-half points over its last three contests. Although New England ranks a respectable 13th in first-half scoring defense (11.9 points per game allowed), that number has ballooned to 16.7 points per game allowed overs its last three.
Baltimore has a tendency of jumping out to fast leads, and there’s one big reason why Sunday night’s contest shouldn’t be any different: turnovers.
On the season, the Ravens are third in takeaways (14) and sixth in turnover margin (+4) while forcing a first-half turnover (10 in total) in all but one contest this season. On the other hand, the Patriots rank 4th in giveaways (15) and 18th in turnover margin (-1) while having a first-half turnover (five in total) in half of their games. Even my 85-year-old grandmother (bless her soul and her efforts in the kitchen) can sniff out that that’s a recipe for disaster.
Finishing drives—on both sides of the ball—will be a major key to this game. Thus far, both teams rank middle of the pack when it comes to net yards per drive, with Baltimore ranking 14th (0.43) and New England two spots behind at 16th (0.03). But the edge goes to the Ravens when it comes to net points per drive with the team ranking third with 0.77 while the Patriots rank fourth-worst in the category at -0.53.
But the major x-factor on Sunday night’s contest will be how New England quarterback Cam Newton will fare against a Baltimore secondary that ranks fifth in defensive DVOA. Unfortunately for Newton, that’s been a situation he’s struggled in over the last three years. In his last six contests against a secondary that ranks Top 15 in pass defense DVOA, Newton has averaged 204.7 yards per game on 60.7-percent passing with zero passing touchdowns and five interceptions for a QBR of 34.6. One would think this would be an opportunity for the team to lean on Newton’s rushing abilities, however, that’s an area the Ravens are even better at, ranking first in rush defense DVOA.
Look for Jackson to pick up his play against a Patriots defense that ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA and 31st in rush defense DVOA and for Baltimore to jump out to a commanding lead at the half.
BOL if tailing (or fading), and as always, please do so responsibly.
You can follow me on Twitter AT BetWithSeb1 or via the Action Network App AT BetWithSeb, where I’ve amassed a documented 161-119-8 (57.5%; +35.40u) overall record and 61-33-3 (64.9%; +25.94u) record on NFL picks. It’s the best way to ensure you lock in all my picks as soon as I do and at the odds I get them at.