Monday Night Football Picks: Ravens at Jaguars Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 10/21/2011
It’s really a shame that ESPN already re-upped with the NFL to keep “Monday Night Football” on the network through 2021, because if I’m the ESPN executive in charge of that deal beforehand, I am insisting that the network get some sort of flex scheduling like NBC does for the Sunday night game late in the season.
I mentioned this same thing a few weeks ago before the Indianapolis-Tampa Bay game, but no one expected the Colts to be this bad and without Peyton Manning. But this week’s game features another dreg of the NFL. Just take a look: Dolphins played on MNF in Week 1, Rams in Week 2 (again, many thought Rams would be good), Colts in Week 4, Dolphins again in Week 6 and the Jacksonville Jaguars this week. There is one win between those four clubs. Next week: New England vs. the University of New Mexico.
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Let’s hope things go better for Jacksonville than its last MNF game, which was almost a calendar year ago: In Week 6 of 2010, the Jags were punked at home by Tennessee, 30-3.
The Ravens are no strangers to Monday night games as this will be their 16th (7-8 all-time). Oddly, though, they usually come on the road. Ten of the 15 have been road games and this is the sixth MNF road game since John Harbaugh took over. The Ravens haven’t hosted a MNF home game since December 2007. The Jags somehow get to host two this year; they are 6-3 on MNF all-time.
In 11 prime-time games under Harbaugh, Baltimore is 7-4. Overall the Ravens are 3-2 on MNF under Harbaugh and won both last year. The Ravens (4-1) and Jags (1-5) haven’t played since 2008, but Baltimore has won seven of the past eight meetings.
Ravens at Jaguars Betting Storylines
Some thought that the Baltimore defense might start to slow down this season with stars like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed getting up there in age. But it’s as good as ever, ranking No. 3 overall against the rush and tops in the NFL in allowing just 14.2 points per game. In fact, other than a hiccup in Week 2 at Tennessee (Baltimore’s only loss), the Ravens have allowed only two teams to reach double digits and neither above 17 points.
Baltimore enters off a 29-14 win over Houston. Ray Rice ran for 101 and Joe Flacco threw for 305, but neither had a TD as the Ravens kept settling for Billy Cundiff field goals (he had five).
The Jaguars enter off a 17-13 loss at Pittsburgh, their fifth defeat in a row. RB Maurice Jones-Drew continues to be the only weapon on this team as he had 96 yards rushing. But the Jags, behind rookie QB Blaine Gabbert, passed for a total of 76 yards. He was sacked five times behind a patchwork offensive line.
Think the Ravens will blitz Gabbert just a bit? The Ravens, whose 27 sacks in 2010 tied for third-fewest in the league, are on pace for a season with nearly 50 sacks this season. The Ravens have blitzed on nearly 49 percent of all pass plays, which is among the league leaders.
Jacksonville will counter with very short passes: Last week at Pittsburgh, Gabbert averaged only 2.5 yards per pass for the league’s worst passing offense (and overall). And expect a huge dose of Jones-Drew. He is the league’s third-leading rusher with 572 yards and is tied for second with 17 runs of 10 yards or more.
It’s not clear as of this writing if Jaguars starting linemen Eben Britton and Eugene Monroe will play this week after sitting out vs. the Steelers. The extra day should help (an undrafted rookie from a Division II school started at left tackle last week). The Jags are second-to-last in the NFL in scoring at 12.0 ppg. They did try and add a weapon for Gabbert this week in bringing back WR Mike Sims-Walker, who flopped with St. Louis and was cut.
Baltimore’s secondary is close to being full strength. Rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith, who hasn't played since Week 1, and cornerback Chris Carr, who has missed three of the Ravens’ five games, both practiced on Thursday. Carr is the more likely to play. Ravens WR Lee Evans remains out and could be done for the year.
Ravens at Jaguars Betting Odds and Trends
Baltimore is currently a nine-point favorite with the total at 39.5 on NFL odds. Nearly a 70 percent lean is on the Ravens. Baltimore is 4-1 ATS this season and 1-1 ATS away. Jags are 2-4 ATS and 1-2 ATS at home. The ‘over’ has hit in just one Jacksonville game, while it has hit in four of Baltimore’s five games.
The Ravens are 5-1 in past six as road favorite and the Jags are 1-6 in past seven as a dog. The ‘over’ is 6-2 in Baltimore’s past eight road games. The ‘under’ is 4-1 in Jags’ past five as a dog. Home team hasn’t failed to cover in past five meetings.
Monday Night Football Picks: Ravens at Jaguars Betting Predictions
Baltimore will move the ball, but it needs to improve in the red zone, which was an issue again last week. That offense ranks 28th in red zone touchdown efficiency at 36.8 percent.
I just don’t see how the Jags can score more than 14 points unless Jones-Drew just plays out of his mind or the Jags get a special teams/defensive touchdown or two. This smells like a 24-10 game. So take the Ravens and the ‘under’.
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