The Baltimore Ravens have a slight edge in support from the NFL betting public for Monday night’s matchup with the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Lets run over the odds, predict their movement and decide where we feel like placing our NFL picks.
Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to December 11 inclusive:
1-1 ML (+0.71 units)
Be sure to check out our:
Remember when the Detroit Lions were the hot preseason pick for the 2013 NFL betting season? Those were the days. Detroit was indeed solid out of the gate at 4-2 SU and ATS, but that’s all it took to suck the value out of the Lions; they’ve gone 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS ever since, and not against the best and the brightest the NFL has to offer.
I seem to recall being on the Baltimore Ravens right from the get-go, too. They’ve been a bit more problematic, even though they have the same record as the Lions right now at 7-6 SU and 6-7 ATS. Baltimore started a bit wobbly at 3-2 SU and ATS, lost three straight, then cashed in three times in a row. Now the Ravens have managed to win back-to-back home games while dropping the cash to Pittsburgh (+3) and Minnesota (+6). Will they get their football betting mojo back on Monday Night Football? The Week 15 NFL odds have Baltimore getting six points on the road. Seems pretty generous to me.
The Lion and the Co-Pay
Just to refresh your memory, the story on the Lions going into the season was regression, regression, regression. They went 4-12 SU and 6-10 ATS last year, but according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, Detroit played well enough to earn 6.4 Pythagorean Wins and 7.6 Estimated Wins. The Lions also suffered an unusually large number of injuries in 2012. Those numbers figured to regress to the mean in 2013.
Detroit has certainly enjoyed better news in the health department. Going into Week 14, the Lions ranked No. 26 in man games lost at 143, according to none other than Man Games Lost. That’s allowed Detroit to improve from No. 16 in overall efficiency last year to No. 12 (No. 15 offense, No. 14 defense, No. 16 special teams), with most of the gains on defense. Getting back DT Nick Fairley and two-time Pro Bowl alternate safety Louis Delmas (seven passes defended, two picks) has been a godsend for Detroit.
Unfortunately for the Lions, their No. 15-ranked offense (No. 11 pass, No. 27 rush) hasn’t quite lived up to its reputation this year. Injuries keep dogging Detroit’s tailbacks; Reggie Bush (4.7 yards per carry, 45 catches) is dealing with a calf problem, one that he aggravated last week while warming up in the snow for their game in Philadelphia. Bush was kept out of the game as the Eagles (–2.5) romped to a 34-20 victory.
Bush expects to suit up this Monday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), and given the extra-long week in between games, it would be a surprise if he didn’t play. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be effective. Calf strains, hamstring pulls and the like tend to hinder player performance until they’re healed. Playing through pain is admirable, but Lions supporters would probably rather see Joique Bell (3.9 yards per carry, 38 catches) get more touches, even if his raw numbers are lower than Bush’s at the moment. Bell actually leads Bush in rushing DYAR, plus-55 to plus-10, and passing DYAR, plus-180 to plus-104.
Baltimore’s once-famous running attack could use a plus-anything. But now that TE Dennis Pitta has returned to the lineup, maybe Ray Rice (minus-182 Total DYAR) and Bernard Pierce (minus-150) can get going. Rice was reasonably effective in last week’s 29-26 victory over the Vikings, rushing for 67 yards on 17 carries and making five catches on five targets for another 42 yards. As always, good health trumps everything.
NFL Pick: Take the Ravens +6 (–106) at Matchbook