Two teams heading in opposite directions meet in New England as the Patriots host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football.
The new-look, Cam Newton-led Patriots have struggled this season — they’re just 3-5 and are coming off a Monday night win in which they barely squeaked by the winless Jets thanks to a last-second field goal.
Meanwhile in Baltimore, Lamar Jackson has propelled the Ravens and their league-best rushing offense to a 6-2 start. Their only losses came at the hands of the undefeated Steelers and the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
Our staff details how they’re betting this mismatch, with a play on the total, the spread and a prop pick.
Patriots vs. Ravens Odds & Picks
It’s crazy to think how much things have changed in only a season: In early November of 2019, the undefeated Patriots strolled into Baltimore as a road favorite. Now, the Ravens are a touchdown favorite in New England against a Patriots team that sits in third place behind the Bills and a Dolphins team that didn’t pick up its first 2019 win until November.
I actually think the spread is about right, but I do see value in the under in a game that will feature two of the NFL’s most run-heavy offenses. The Ravens lead the league in rush attempts per game at 33.3 while the Patriots are not too far behind at 32.8, tied for second with the Chargers.
These are also two clubs that won’t play super fast. Baltimore ranks 27th in situation neutral pace (per Football Outsiders), while the Patriots rank 23rd. The clock should be moving swiftly throughout, much to the delight of under backers. Plus, the weather conditions are conducive to an under here.
In a matchup of two run-focused offenses, you have to give the edge to the Ravens, who rank No. 1 overall in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA. The Patriots rank 31st in that same category, which spells trouble against Lamar Jackson and Co.
I don’t expect Cam Newton to have much success through the air, especially with Marlon Humphrey back in the lineup. Baltimore has three elite corners on the outside who should neutralize an underwhelming receiving corps that no longer has Julian Edelman. Even if cornerback Jimmy Smith (doubtful) can’t go, Humphrey and Marcus Peters should put the cuffs on Patriots wide receivers Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers.
With complete confidence in the matchups on the outside, Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale — who brings the blitz more than any other defensive coordinator in the league — should fire up the pressure packages all night on passing downs. That could end in disaster for Newton, who ranks 30th in QB rating (with no touchdowns and four interception) out of 34 quarterbacks with at least 100 drop backs this season.
And while the Ravens should have more success on the ground, I’m sure Bill Belichick will have a good scheme cooked up to contain Jackson after seeing him last season. Plus, Baltimore’s passing attack just isn’t harding anybody right now.
I ultimately expect the Ravens to move to 5-0 on the road in 2020 on the shoulders of a superior rushing attack, defense and special teams unit. However, the play here is the under.
Most years over the past two decades, this game would have been a defensive battle and a coaching masterclass. The Ravens and Patriots have played in many classics during the Bill Belichick era, including a handful of times in the playoffs.
Over the past decade, New England has won five of nine matchups, and the teams have split four playoff meetings. That’s a pretty strong showing for Baltimore, when you consider how dominant the Patriots have been.
Last year, this would have been an epic battle. The Ravens had the best offense in football a year ago, and the Patriots had the league’s best defense.
But last year is long ago now.
Baltimore’s offense hasn’t been nearly as deadly this season, and Lamar Jackson has looked far from the MVP at times.
And New England’s defense is in serious danger of going from first to worst this year. The Patriots have the No. 31 ranked defensive DVOA at the season’s midpoint, according to Football Outsiders. In case you’ve forgotten, there are only 32 NFL teams.
New England’s run defense ranks No. 31 too, and that is a particularly bad problem to have against the Ravens. Jackson may not be throwing the ball particularly well, but Baltimore still has a fierce rushing attack. Remember how the 49ers dominated the Pats a month ago, gashing them in the run game? Baltimore is a better version of San Francisco.
The other side of the ball looks like trouble too. New England has struggled to score all season, and while they’ve had a useful rushing attack, Baltimore has the league’s finest run defense. Add it all up, and this looks like a mismatch from every angle.
That this line is at 7 still is truly baffling and shows you how much the books respect Bill Belichick. Take away Belichick and change the jerseys, and I think Baltimore might be something like -13. They might win by that much anyway.
This is one of my favorite bets of the season thus far at 7 points, and it’s also a great spot for a teaser. Get in on the Ravens while the books are still propping up New England.
Mike Randle: Jakobi Meyers Under 56.4 Receiving Yards
Coming off a massive 12-reception, 169-receiving yard performance on national TV against the Jets, this prop seems very inviting for the casual bettor.
This is exactly why we are going in the opposite direction.
The Ravens have one of the stingiest secondaries, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Their 1,228 total receiving yards allowed to the position is fifth-fewest.
I expect a run-dominated game plan for New England as they try to limit Jackson’s time of possession. Baltimore cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters are both among the NFL’s elite at the position. Both rank among the top 40 CBs this year, per Pro Football Focus.
Meyers will have much more target competition, as well. The likely return of wide receiver N’Keal Harry and the recent addition of Isaiah Ford further cloud the limited Patriots target share. Teammate Damiere Byrd should also see deep looks from Newton, especially with top overall cornerback Jimmy Smith out with a knee injury.
This is a classic sell-high spot on Meyers in a tough defensive matchup. This is a 9-rated prop on our Action Network Player Prop Tool, which have hit at a 59% (255-173-4) rate this season.
I would bet this down to 55.5 receiving yards.