Wild Card NFL Props Predictions and Betting Odds: Chargers at Ravens
Los Angeles Chargers @ Baltimore Ravens, M&T Bank Stadium, 1:05 p.m. EST. Jan 6, 2019.
I can't be the only one who thinks the NFL playoff format needs a revamp. Take this game, for example, you have a 12-4 team in the Chargers who have to travel across the country for an early start to play a 10-6 Ravens team. I completely understand that the division winners deserve some sort of reprieve for winning their respective divisions, but it's a hard pill to swallow if you are a fan of the Chargers.
Keep in mind, this Ravens team already contained and beat the Chargers in LA, so getting them at home in front of their home crowd, that should be like taking candy from a baby. The Ravens are rightful favorites in this spot , and it's going to take a big performance from Philip Rivers and Co. to avenge the late-season loss that ultimately cost them their division and a first-round bye.
As of writing this, the Baltimore Ravens are 2.5-point favorites and the total is set at 41.5. I would have never imagined seeing a total this low for a game involving the Chargers, but the Ravens run game is the best in the league right now, and their ability to keep the clock running scares me in this one. I'd side with over based on principal alone, but we've already seen the Baltimore defense shut down this Chargers offense on their home field. As for the spread, defense generally wins championships, so I'd side with the home team in this spot to get the job done.
Instead of focusing on the point spread, I have keyed a few prop bets I expect to hit and make us some money.
All lines are courtesy of Sports Interaction
Team Total Points
Los Angeles Chargers - "Over" 19.5 -118, "Under" 19.5, -118
Adjustments. Adjustments. Adjustments.
I can't say that word enough. It's one thing to completely shut down an offense you see every four years in a single game, but playing them twice in the span of two weeks is tough sledding. This is why I believe playing the Chargers over their relatively low team total is the best option in this game.
The Chargers have several weapons on the offensive side of the ball, and I believe that watching what the Ravens did to them in the first meeting and then watching what Cleveland did to Baltimore in the last regular-season game, will help the offense adjust and find the soft spots in what is a great defense. Philip Rivers has been around the game long enough to make the necessary adjustment. And with the likes of Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams, the Chargers are in good hands offensively. We could see the Chargers employ their own "ball possession" tactic in order to keep the Ravens offense on the sideline, and we just don't see a way that the Chargers are held to fewer than 20 points in this game. It's do-or-die, so look for the Chargers to make the necessary adjustments and use every play in the playbook in order to live to fight another week.
Los Angeles -2.5 +159
I truly believe that the Chargers will go into Baltimore and come away with the victory. As I mentioned above, the Chargers are a veteran bunch and they will be able to make the necessary adjustments in order to navigate the Ravens stingy defense. Familiarity generally favors the offense when two teams hook up more than once in a relatively short time frame, and I can absolutely see the Ravens falling flat on their face after playing playoff-type football for the last month or so. That last game against Cleveland took a lot out of them emotionally, while the Chargers essentially knew they were coming East for a wild card game. I am done disrespecting the Chargers this season, so let's take a shot with them on the alternative spread and a nice juicy payout.
Will Lamar Jackson Score a TD? Yes +140, No -160
One would think that if I like the Chargers to win outright, then the Ravens would need to be held in check offensively and score the least amount of points possible. While that rings true, I do believe Jackson will find the back of the end zone. He is too dynamic of a runner to be held in check for the entire 60 minutes, and he has almost as many (five) rushing touchdowns as he does passing touchdowns (six). The Ravens game plan will be to run, run and run the ball some more, which gives us several avenues to cash this ticket. You have the quarterback sneak near the goal line, you have the designed QB runs which come via the RPO or out of shotgun, and you have the passing downs which Jackson scrambles to make a play. Jackson is a great athlete, and he leads the charge on this Ravens offense, so it's only fitting we take a chance with a juicy price on "Yes" he scores a touchdown.
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