Baltimore Ravens Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 7/8/2014
I thought the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl win two seasons ago was a bit of a fluke because Joe Flacco played out of his mind for four games. I had no expectations of them repeating as champions last year, but I certainly was surprised this was just a .500 team. Of course, Flacco got his monster extension before last season and that cost the Ravens a handful of players. The losses of future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed also hurt, perhaps more from a leadership standpoint than their actual production on the field at this point in their careers. It was the first season the team failed to make the playoffs under Coach John Harbaugh.
While Baltimore clearly wasn't quite as good last year as previous ones under Harbaugh, it was also a bit unlucky. Four of the Ravens' losses were by three points or less. Still, the team was in pretty solid shape for at least a wild-card berth after winning 18-16 in Detroit in Week 15 on Justin Tucker's 61-yard field goal to improve to 8-6. However, then the Ravens were blown out at home by New England and then at Cincinnati in Week 17. Baltimore became the 15th Super Bowl champ that failed to reach the playoffs the following season and the sixth in the last 12 years.
This was clearly the weak side of the ball in 2013. Flacco might have been the most overpaid player in the NFL last year, completing just 59 percent of his passes for 3,912 yards, 19 touchdowns (fewest since rookie season) and 22 interceptions (career high by 10). He was the No. 32 rated QB in the league, behind such luminaries as Kellen Clemens, Case Keenum and Christian Ponder. The running game was a strength in the Super Bowl season but a disaster last year, averaging just 83 yards per game. I don't know what happened to Ray Rice as he finished with just 660 yards on a pathetic 3.1 yards per carry. Rice also had a troubling altercation with his now wife in the offseason, and the NFL is going to suspend him multiple games. His backup, Bernard Pierce, also regressed in a big way last year.
With how bad the offense was, the Ravens probably weren't too upset that offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell was hired by the Lions as their head coach. Baltimore might have fired him if the Lions hadn't swooped in. The team appears to have upgraded there with former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak. He takes over a Ravens offense that has gone 16 seasons without ranking in the Top 10 in total offense, tied for the fifth-longest streak in history. The record is 21 straight by the Colts from 1978-98. Baltimore's big offseason player addition on offense was former Panthers receiver Steve Smith. Make sure to start him Week 4 against Carolina as Smith is very eager to stick to the Panthers. The Ravens also re-signed very good tight end Dennis Pitta, who missed the majority of last season due to a hip injury.
Despite losing Lewis, Reed and a few others off that Super Bowl defense, the Ravens were still pretty solid on that side of the ball in 2013, finishing 12th in total defense and in scoring (22 points per game). Rising defensive end Arthur Jones and safety James Ihedigbo were lost in free agency this offseason, but I loved the team's first two draft picks in May: Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley and Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Mosley won the Butkus Award last year, and about the only knock on him is his inability to stay healthy.
The Ravens were able to sign tackle Terrence Cody and linebacker Daryl Smith (123 tackles, five sacks, three picks last year) to long-term deals. The main problem for the Ravens defense was that it appeared to wear down. The Ravens ranked 30th in fourth-quarter defense, surrendering an average of 8.4 points and being outscored 134-115 in that quarter. The team is clearly hoping an injection of youth will change that. Four of the Ravens' first five draft picks were on defense.
2014 Baltimore Ravens Schedule Analysis
The Ravens have the fifth-easiest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 117-139 last season, a winning percentage of .461. It's the easiest schedule in the AFC North. Baltimore's home and road splits are even (opponents in both at .461). Baltimore opens the season at home against Cincinnati in an early crucial matchup for potential tiebreaker scenarios down the road. The Ravens are 2.5-point favorites with a total of 43.5. The teams split last year, each winning at home. Baltimore won 20-17 in overtime in Week 10 after the Bengals tied it on a 51-yard Hail Mary TD pass at the end of regulation. The Ravens managed to win despite turning the ball over three times and gaining just 189 yards compared to Cincinnati's 364. The Bengals also turned it over three times and were penalized nine times for 134 yards.
In my mind, the winner of the opener is in great shape to win the AFC North -- especially if Cincinnati steals it on the road -- because I'm not a huge believer in the Steelers. The Browns are the Browns. It's extra big for Baltimore because it then turns around and plays four days later against visiting Pittsburgh. Get off to a 2-0 start with both wins over your primary division rivals and the Ravens will be feeling pretty good about themselves. Then they get a few extra days to prepare for a Week 3 trip to Cleveland. So it's probable that the Ravens won't be an underdog until Week 5 at Indianapolis. They shouldn't be home dogs all year with no powerhouse team visiting there. They will be underdogs at Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in Weeks 8-9, at New Orleans in Week 12 (but out of a bye for the Ravens, a nice advantage) and likely at Miami in Week 14. That could be it. The season concludes with three very winnable games: vs. Jaguars, at Texans, vs. Browns.
2014 Baltimore Ravens Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Ravens are +4200 to win the Super Bowl, +2000 to win the AFC championship and +250 to take the AFC North. Baltimore's wins total is 8.5, with the "over" a -135 favorite. It is +220 to make the playoffs and -285 to miss. Flacco is +10000 to win NFL MVP and Rice is +30000. Flacco is +10000 as well to lead the league in passing. Rice is +7500 to lead the league in rushing. Pierce is +10000. Torrey Smith is +5000 to top the NFL in receiving yards. Mosley is +1500 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. Jernigan is +3000.
2014 Baltimore Ravens Picks and Predictions
It's a bit difficult forecasting Baltimore's wins total because we don't yet know how long Rice is going to be suspended. Most everyone agrees it will be at least two games, but if it's four or more that's pretty significant. Rice met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on June 16, so I'm not sure what the delay is. I'm also not really sure what to think of Flacco. I've never been real high on him, although he certainly was terrific in the 2012 playoffs. I rather doubt he has more interceptions than touchdowns again. I do like the hiring of Kubiak to tutor him. I'd say this is a 9-7 team, which won't quite be enough for the division (Bengals) but could get the team in the wild-card discussion. The only individual prop I'd seriously ponder would be Mosley for DROY. He should be a fine player and will start from the get-go.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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