Should the 0-3 Ravens lose to arch-rival Pittsburgh Thursday night as a slight NFL odds favorite, they can start planning for 2016. Let's examine some Ravens NFL player props from Bovada.
Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, just one team has made the playoffs after starting 0-4: the 1992 San Diego Chargers closed the season on an 11-1 run. That team was then clobbered in the divisional round of the playoffs, 31-0 by the Miami Dolphins. So, yeah, this is a must-win for the Ravens, who are easily the NFL's biggest disappointment considering some well-known NFL experts had them winning the AFC Championship Game this year. To be fair, though, Baltimore is only three plays from being 3-0, losing by six at Denver in Week 1, by four in the final minute at Oakland in Week 2 and by four at home vs. Cincinnati in Week 3, blowing a second straight fourth-quarter lead. Should Baltimore win here, it could easily get to .500 as it will be favored in Week 5 at home against Cleveland then visits a so-so San Francisco team in Week 6. The Ravens are now +7500 at Bovada's NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50, +3300 to win the AFC title and +750 to win the AFC North. I think the division is about impossible with the Bengals at 3-0 and already with a head-to-head win.
Joe Flacco 'Over/Under' 23.5 Completions, 260.5 Passing Yards, 1.5 TD Passes, .5 INTs
Outside of Steve Smith and with rookie Breshad Perriman yet to play this season due to injury, Flacco has a pretty weak group of receivers after the Ravens lost Torrey Smith to free agency this offseason. Flacco's numbers are just OK thus far as he is 82-for-126 (65.1 percent) for 863 yards, four touchdowns and four picks. That rating is just 20th in the NFL -- one spot worse than Browns journeyman starter Josh McCown. Flacco has played one very good defense in Denver and one pretty good one in Cincinnati. But with Torrey Smith gone, Flacco just doesn't have much of a deep threat (that was supposed to be Perriman). He is averaging only 6.85 yards per attempt (21st in NFL). Flacco is 4-2 in his career as a starter on Thursday night. Also, since entering the league in 2008, Flacco has passed for 1,596 yards and eight touchdowns at Heinz Field, the most of any Steelers opponent during that span. Pittsburgh ranks 19th in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 255 yards per game. It has given up six TD passes and picked off one with a pretty weak secondary. The Steelers were torched in Week 1 by Tom Brady but have been pretty strong the past two weeks against the Niners' Colin Kaepernick and Rams' Nick Foles.
NFL Free Picks: The Ravens aren't running the ball at all, so go 'OVER' all these. Flacco figures to throw at least 40 times.
Steve Smith O/U 6 Receptions, 82.5 Receiving Yards
Smith is in his 15th season at age 36 and says he will retire after it. I'm not sold on that because he remains very productive. He had one of the best games in Ravens history last week against the Bengals, catching 13 passes (tying team record) for 186 yards (second-most in league history for someone at least 36) and two touchdowns. It was his second straight game with at least 10 catches and 150 yards. He has been targeted by Flacco a whopping 33 times the past two games after only seven in Week 1 when Smith did nothing. I don't see why any of that changes here.
NFL Free Picks: 'OVER' both.
Justin Forsett O/U 49.5 Rushing Yards
Forsett was one of last season's out-of-nowhere surprises, rushing for 1,266 yards on 235 carries (excellent 5.4 yards per carry). This year, he seems to have regressed to his former journeyman status, carrying 39 times for only 124 yards, a scant 3.2 yards per carry. He was given only 10 carries in last week's loss to Cincinnati as offensive coordinator Marc Trestman basically abandoned the run, something he did often in 2014 as Chicago's head coach. Pittsburgh is No. 9 against the run.
NFL Free Picks: 'UNDER'