Everyone loves the San Diego Chargers all of a sudden. They were the unanimous early NFL pick for Sunday's afternoon game against the bad-luck Baltimore Ravens.
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 27: 22-16-1 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 18-26 Total
If it weren't for bad luck, the Baltimore Ravens wouldn't have any luck at all. The world seemed to be against them in Monday night's game against the Arizona Cardinals – until the Cards missed an extra point to keep Baltimore alive in the fourth quarter. It was just a tease, though: Baltimore's communication system went out during the potential game-tying drive, and the Ravens lost 26-18.
At least they finally beat the NFL odds for the first time this season. That's assuming you had Baltimore as a +10 road dog on the closing line, and not at +7.5 when the lines opened. And that's assuming you didn't have the Ravens at –2.5 instead of –3 when they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-20 in overtime back in Week 4. Suffice to say it's been a very strange season in Charm City.
This Ebony Bird Beguiling
Meanwhile, things have quickly gone south for the San Diego Chargers (2-5 SU and ATS). And yet we had 100 percent of early bettors pounding the Bolts as 3-point road dogs for Sunday's matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS). Where is all this love coming from? Sure, the Ravens have the worse record at 1-6 SU and 1-5-1 ATS. But unless you think the fates are against Baltimore, there aren't many other reasons to put the Chargers in your Week 8 NFL picks.
From a performance perspective, the numbers say Baltimore has been the better team. Pro-Football Reference gives the Ravens a –2.7 on the Simple Rating System through Week 7, compared to the Chargers at –5.2. Fresh DVOA numbers are pending from Football Outsiders, but they had Baltimore at No. 13 overall (No. 16 offense, No. 18 defense, No. 4 special teams) through Week 6. San Diego was eight spots back at No. 21 overall (No. 9 offense, No. 26 defense, No. 29 special teams).
Normally, we'd point at those numbers and say the betting public was overvaluing San Diego's offense while undervaluing Baltimore's defense and special teams. It's a tale as old as time. But early money is supposed to be sharp money. It only took an hour or so for the consensus in this game to balance out, so who knows – let's look at the expanded numbers when they come in to see which team has drawn more money.
Until then, note that the Chargers lost yet another offensive lineman when LG Orlando Franklin suffered a sprained MCL and was carted off the field in last week's 37-29 loss to the Oakland Raiders (+3.5 away), although that sprain is now considered “mild.” TE Antonio Gates also sprained his MCL and could miss several weeks – or he could play on Sunday. Call both players game-time decisions, and come back later this week for our decision against the spread.