Colts vs. Ravens: Betting the Spread
Jason’s record on his final weekly NFL picks for the complete 2012 regular season:
51-38-3 ATS (–1.96 units vig)
10-6 ML (+5.82 units)
18-17-1 Totals (–1.71 units vig)
Profit: 16.15 units
Well, well. What do we have here? The big story from Wednesday’s NFL newswires is that Lewis, arguably the greatest linebacker in league history, is going to retire after the playoffs. And he made this announcement directly to his fellow players. Good idea, because the Ravens need to pull out all the stops this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) against a Colts team that has no shortage of motivation.
Looking for Lewis and Suggs
I’ve already given more than my two pfennigs worth about Chuck Pagano. The Colts (11-5 SU and ATS) are 10-3 SU and ATS since he was diagnosed with leukemia, and I’m not inclined to wager against them. Neither are two out of three bettors, according to our consensus reports.
Yet here are the Ravens (10-6 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) bridging the NFL betting gap. Lewis has missed every game since Week 6 with a torn triceps, but he’s expected to return Sunday, and while Lewis may have lost a step at age 38, he’s still a force with which to be reckoned. Now we can expect the same from his teammates – most of whom got plenty of rest in Week 17 as the Baltimore Ravens B-team lost 23-17 to the Cincinnati Bengals (–5.5 at home).
There’s no question the Ravens have struggled this year, mostly due to injuries on defense. But Sunday will be the first time that Lewis and LB Terrell Suggs have played together this year. That’s upside, baby.
Upside is what the Colts were all about going into the 2012 season. But they’ve already met and exceeded expectations, maturing quickly under difficult emotional circumstances. Peyton Manning’s Colts went 3-13 in his first year before going 13-3 in 1999. Andrew Luck’s Colts have already reached the top.
Sort of. Luck (76.5 passer rating) has played very well for a rookie, and he’s pick-free in his last three games after throwing 18 on the season to go with 10 fumbles. However, if the efficiency charts and Estimated Wins are are to be believed, Luck should be the quarterback of a 6-10 team right now. It’s their dogged success on third- and fourth-down conversions that has made much of the difference.
Get it Right
Remember how the preseason buzz was on Joe Flacco and how he’d be taking a big step forward this year? Didn’t quite happen. Flacco’s basic stats (22 TDs, 10 INTs, 87.7 passer rating) are better than they were in 2011, but his passing DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) has slipped from No. 14 overall to No. 17, just two spots ahead of Luck.
And check out RB Ray Rice. He’s still a damn fine tailback (4.4 yards per carry, 61 catches), but his numbers are also down from 2011. You can see why the Ravens decided to cut offensive co-ordinator Cam Cameron loose in December, although the timing was strange and there hasn’t been an immediate renaissance under Jim Caldwell.
Maybe they’ll get it right for Lewis’ sake. During the regular season, the Ravens were No. 20 in the league on third-down conversions (Indy was No. 7) and No. 22 on fourth downs (Indy was No. 1). That seems pretty low for a team that ranked No. 13 in offensive efficiency. I’ll stick with the Colts, but it feels like a reckoning is coming.
NFL Picks: Take the Colts +7 at DiamondGood luck with all of your playoff sports picks!!