NFL Picks: Ravens vs. Broncos Betting the Total

Doug Upstone

Thursday, September 5, 2013 12:22 PM UTC

Thursday, Sep. 5, 2013 12:22 PM UTC

Sportsbooks have set the bar high in this year's opener, as the Broncos and Ravens will be asked to hit a total of 49 points. How do we think bettors should approach this total with their NFL picks?

Line makers have peppered the NFL odds board with larger opening line numbers and as of Wednesday evening, there were no less than eight games which had total of 48.5 or higher.

One of those which have been elevated to this level is the NFL season opener. Let’s review recent history to learn if something in the past can foretell the future.

Take a look at our Opening Betting Odds Report for this matchup.

At the start of the century, these teams met seven times and only once did the total go past the original number. They played again in 2010 and the two teams posted a total of 48 points, well over the 39.5 listed figure.

The follow meeting was last year in the middle of December and it was established Denver was a very good offensive team and Baltimore’s defense was not the dominant force it had been thru the Ray Lewis and Ed Reed golden years, with a well adjusted number to 48.5. In spite of this, the Broncos were ready and routed the Ravens 34-17, buzzing past the number. 

This brought us to the AFC Playoffs on a very cold day in the Mile High City and with the frigid temperatures, a more defensive contest was anticipated and the total fell to 44 points at game time. 

As we remember, the total was almost surpassed at halftime with the score 21-all and finished with Baltimore pulling what was thought to be a significant upset 38-35 OT final.  

What can we take from that matchup to look ahead?

Which lines are you looking to back tonight?

Play the same hand or use a change-up?

In last January’s postseason conflict, Baltimore’s offensive line came together miraculously and they ran right at Denver’s defense for 155 yards. The Ravens were also able to throw deep on the Broncos secondary, particularly outside the right hashmarks and they of course will test them again and see how they respond. Champ Bailey is thought to be a game time decision because of a sprained foot, which would leave Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris to try and keep the Ravens from exposing the Broncos over the top.  

The conventional thinking is the Ravens might a touch more conservative utilizing different receivers like Brandon Stokely among others, but head coach John Harbaugh could well have a game plan that goes for the throat and attacks the Denver D and pound away on the ground with running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Denver fans and possibly the players would like some payback and how they do this best is by attacking a reformulated Ravens defense. The Broncos are in the second year with Peyton Manning and the offensive should be even more effective having gone through a season together.

The addition of Wes Welker adds even more diversity and Manning will find out if he has not already what Tom Brady liked about the former Texas Tech product.

Total bouncing like a lottery ball

Over the years we have seen those live lottery shows where all the balls are bouncing around before they were sucked by a machine and plucked as lottery number. With the betting public having so much time to look at oddsmakers releases, this matchup opened at 49.5, sunk as low as 48 (even a few books briefly had 47.5) before it started to rise again to 49. 

Total Mania 

I have to say, all indications point to adding the OVER to our NFL picks, with Denver 8-1 OVER at home when the total is between 42.5 and 49 points. And while I can see big plays occurring, I believe the defenses will end up allowing more field goals this time around and we will end up with an UNDER. 

NFL Football Free Pick- UNDER 49

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