Monday Night Football Picks: Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots Odds
by Alan Matthews - 12/8/2016
We had a marquee matchup in the Thursday night game in Week 14, one in the Sunday night slot, and we cap it off with another stellar game on Monday night in a potential playoff preview as Baltimore visits New England -- and those two know each other well from previous postseasons. I can promise you this game will be much more interesting than last week's ugly Colts-Jets Monday game in which I stupidly leaned the Gang Green at home. Bad week to stop sniffing glue!
Entering Week 14, the Patriots (10-2) would clinch the AFC East division with a Dolphins home loss on Sunday to Arizona (very possible) and New England winning or tying this game. The Patriots would become the first team in NFL history to win eight consecutive division titles. The Pats clinch no worse than the AFC's No. 2 seed with a win, Dolphins loss and Steelers loss in Buffalo (also very possible). New England, of course, has its eyes on the AFC's top seed after losing that spot in Week 17 last year -- something that probably cost Tom Brady and Bill Belichick a fifth Super Bowl ring each. But that race for the AFC top spot likely goes down to Week 17 and battling Oakland or Kansas City. The Pats close at Denver, vs. the Jets and at the Dolphins. They could easily lose both road games, and even though the Jets are sorry they tend to play New England tough (see Week 12).
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Baltimore (7-5) is tied atop the AFC North with Pittsburgh entering the weekend. The Ravens currently hold the tiebreaker thanks to a Week 9 21-14 home victory over the Steelers when Ben Roethlisberger was much less than 100 percent. The Ravens close home vs. Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh and at Cincinnati. A wild-card spot is possible for Baltimore if it doesn't win the division but I wouldn't count on that.
But if the playoffs started today, the Ravens would visit the Patriots in the divisional round assuming Baltimore won its home wild-card round game (currently vs. Denver).
Ravens at Patriots Betting Story Lines
Baltimore played perhaps its best game of the season last Sunday, a 38-6 home wipeout of what had been a red-hot Miami team. Joe Flacco had his best game, too, completing 36 of 47 for 381 yards and four scores. Tight end Dennis Pitta caught nine balls for 90 yards and two scores. Even the lousy Ravens running game managed 110 yards and a TD on 20 carries. Defensively, Baltimore held Miami to just 277 yards and forced three turnovers.
So is this a Super Bowl contender? If Flacco plays like he did vs. Miami and in the 2012 Super Bowl run, sure. But he hasn't done that much this season. Last week was only his third 300-yard game of the season and third with multiple TD passes. He's just the 26th-ranked QB in the NFL at 84.1, behind guys like Trevor Siemian, Colin Kaepernick and Tyrod Taylor. It doesn't help the Ravens have been cycling through running backs all year and are 28th in rushing. The defense is Super Bowl caliber, leading the NFL in yards allowed and No. 2 in points.
The Patriots began life without Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski last week and Brady simply didn't look as sharp without his security blanket and top red-zone target. New England beat a bad Rams team 26-10. It was Brady's 201st career win including playoffs, setting the NFL record. But it has been widely established that Brady's career numbers are not as good without Gronk. And Brady was just OK vs. Los Angeles, completing 33-for-46 for 269 yards (just 5.85 yards per attempt) with one TD.
Brady also is likely to be missing receiver Danny Amendola this week as he hurt his ankle vs. the Rams. It's a high-ankle sprain and that probably means the rest of the regular season. Amendola hasn't done much this season, but at least Brady knows him. If you are looking for a late-season fantasy football pickup and he's out there, grab Malcolm Mitchell. The rookie fourth-rounder could be the main beneficiary of Gronk's injury as he was targeted 10 times by Brady vs. the Rams and caught eight balls for 82 yards.
Ravens at Patriots Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New England is a 7.5-point favorite (+110) with a total of 45.5. On the moneyline, the Patriots are -320 and Ravens +260. On the alternate lines, the Pats are -7 (-110) and -6.5 (-130). Baltimore is 6-6 against the spread (1-4 on road) and 4-7-1 "over/under" (2-2-1 on road). New England is 9-3 ATS (4-2 at home) and 4-8 O/U (3-3 at home).
The Ravens are 5-0 ATS in their past five Monday games. They are 6-1-1 ATS in their past eight road games vs. teams with a winning home record. Baltimore has covered just once in its past eight after a win of at least 14 points. The Patriots are 5-2-1 ATS in their past eight on Monday. The under is 7-2 in the Ravens' past nine in December. The under is 5-2 in New England's past seven vs. the AFC. The road team is 6-0-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Ravens at Patriots Betting Prediction
New England has won the past two meetings. The most recent was a great, great game in Foxboro in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs. The Pats twice rallied from 14-point deficits -- the first team to do so in NFL postseason history -- to win 35-31. Flacco threw for 292 yards and four touchdowns but two costly picks. Brady threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns -- Julian Edelman also threw a TD pass on trick play. The Patriots didn't even bother trying to run the ball that day with 14 yards on 13 carries.
Take a look at Baltimore's schedule this season . Show me a great win. The Pittsburgh one was solid, but as noted above Big Ben was just off knee surgery. Miami had won six straight entering last week, but the Dolphins are frauds. The good teams the Ravens have played -- Raiders, Giants, Cowboys -- they have lost to. The Patriots are 7-1 all-time against Baltimore in the regular season, including 4-0 in home games. Go New England but give the 6.5 points to be safe. Like the under.
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