Ravens vs. Patriots NFL Picks: Divisional Round Betting Guide

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 1:44 PM GMT

Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 1:44 PM GMT

The Ravens finished third in the AFC North and are always dangerous in the playoffs—ask the Steelers—but in Foxboro against a rested Belichick-coached team will have trouble covering the 7-point spread on Saturday.

Odds Overview and Weather
Baltimore Ravens at New England Patriots (Patriots -7, 48, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Saturday 21:35 (NBC, 4:35 p.m. ET/1:35 p.m. PT): Tom Brady and the AFC’s top seed, the New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 9-7 ATS), host Joe Flacco and the upstart Baltimore Ravens (10-6 SU, 7-8-1 ATS) in this AFC Divisional Round playoff game from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Saturday afternoon in which the winner will become the first team to advance to next weekend’s AFC Championship game and also become the first of four teams in line to get a shot of winning Super Bowl XLIX st to be held at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on February 1.

Most NFL odds have the host Patriots installed as 7-point favorites with the Total Points set at 48 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). The Money Line (Winner) odds see New England as -275 favorites with the visiting Ravens priced at +244 on the take-back (Pinnacle). The Patriots Team Total Points has been set at 27 (BetVictor) with the Ravens Total Team Points at 20½ (Boylesports). Some random prop wagers: Race To 10 Points (Ladbrokes): Patriots -187, Ravens +150; and, Will Either Team Score A Safety?, which has the No at -6600 and the Yes priced at +1400 (14/1, William Hill).

Five days out from the game (Monday), the weather forecast for Foxboro (The Weather Channel) calls for Mainly Sunny conditions with a High temperature of a chilly 26° with Westerly Winds from 10 to 15 mph. Both teams and fans attending the game will be lucky if the sun is indeed out with those forecasted temperatures but with both teams used to playing in colder climates, the only advantage to be had here will be for the Patriots in playing in the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium and that valuable home-field edge which can never be written about enough.

 

Baltimore Ravens
Ravens QB Joe Flacco is seldom mentioned when talking about the perceived elite QBs in the NFL, but the University of Delaware product just quietly gets the job done like your mailman. Flacco is now an amazing 5-0 in his L5 playoff games throwing for 17 TDs with 0 Interceptions with a QB Rating of 110.7, so, when one discusses the great QBs and how they perform in the postseason, it’s about time the general public gave the Ravens signal caller a little bit more respect his head coach John Harbaugh (65-55-5 ATS) did last week, calling the 29-year-old “the best quarterback in football.” Flacco (344 completions, 3,986 yards, 27 TDs) does have one of the strongest arms in the NFL and some great WRs in veteran Steve Smith Sr. (79 receptions, 1,065 yards, 6 TDs, 13.5 ypc) and Torrey Smith (49 receptions, 767 yards, 11 TDs, 15.7 ypc) and a great TE in Owen Daniels (48 receptions, 527 yards, 4 TDs, 11.0 ypc), but the Ravens rank just 13th in the league in Passing Yards (238.7 ypg) and will need that facet of their offense to be productive on Saturday against the Patriots who rank 17th against the pass, allowing an average of 239.8 ypg. So no matter how who frigid it may be, expect balls to be in the air in New England.

With Ray Rice now a distant memory, RB Justin Forsett (235 rushes, 1,266 yards, 8 TDs) has done a really admirable job carrying the load in the Baltimore backfield and the Ravens rank an impressive #8 Rushing (126.2 ypg), so this team not only has a great QB, a good coach and has already proven it can win on the road, but is also very balanced on offense. So the Patriots are really lucky they worked so hard to improve their defense because although the Ravens finished in third place in the AFC North, they’re the only team still alive from that rugged division and will be looking to carry the torch as it did in 2012 when they surprised everyone and won Super Bowl XLVI.

Defensively, Baltimore (2-4 ATS L6) may not be as good as the team which won Super Bowl XXXV back in 2000, but LB CJ Moseley (133 tackles, 2 INTs) and his teammates are good enough to make a run at another NFL championship but will have to first stop the dink-and-dunk Patriots pass attack in this one. Heading in here, Ravens T Eugene Monroe (ankle) and DT Timmy Jernigan (ankle) are both listed as Questionable for this game while Baltimore’s Injured Reserve list looks a little bit like a Chinese food menu with TE Dennis Pitta (hip) probably being the most valuable player dwelling there right next to the Egg Drop Soup.

Super Bowl XLIX NFL Picks & Futures Book Odds

New England Patriots
The Patriots (10-2 SU L12) and head coach Bill Belichick (149-112-5 ATS) played it smart down the stretch, securing the top seed in the conference and the home-field advantage and resting some players like fellow genius Gregg Popovich of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs often chooses to do—something hard for paying ticket-holders and sports bettors alike to sometimes swallow. As always, leading the charge for New England is veteran QB Tom Brady (373 completions, 4,109 yards, 33 TDs)—who has to be in the running for the league MVP—and as they are wont to do, the Patriots utilize a number of virtual no-names guys en masse to get whatever it is that needs to get done, done on offense.

Emerging WR Julian Edelman (92 receptions, 979 yards, 4 TDs) has done a wonderful job filling the Wes Welker void since his departure to Denver and Brandon LaFell (74 receptions, 953 yards, 7 TDs) has had a breakout season while the one name everybody knows, Brady Buddy TE Rob Gronkowski (82 receptions, 1,124 yards, 12 TDs, 13.7 ypc) continues to be one of the most dependable and clutch players in the entire league. Look at those numbers and remember that he’s a TE. WR numbers. And guys like WR Danny Amendola and TE Tim Wright (26 receptions, 259 yards, 6 TDs) are exactly the type of players who get things done in the big game and then everyone forgets their name a week later.

At RB, it’s a committee of James Develin, Jonas Gray (89 rushes, 412 yards, 5 TDs), Shane Vereen (96 rushes, 391 yards, 2 TDs), LeGarrette Blount (60 rushes, 281 yards, 3 TDs) and Brandon Bolden and New England ranks an impressive #8 in the league in Rushing (102.9 ypg) using this somewhat odd combination. But with the Ravens #4 against the Rush (88.3 ypg), Belichick may have Brady throwing the ball more than normal if the ground game proves to be ineffective early on.

On defense, the Patriots are much improved but still have a way to ranking #17 against the Pass and #19 versus the Run and expect the hosts to be stingy in the cold of Gillette. As far as injuries, aforementioned WRs Edelman (head) and LaFell (foot) and RB Gray (ankle) as well as DE Chandler Jones (hip), LB Dont’a Hightower (shoulder) and CB Brandon Browner (groin) are all listed as Questionable (Monday) but expect all of them to be ready this weekend and anyone who know Belichick and injury reports knows they almost meaningless. The valuable Edelman has been dealing with the effects of a concussion, and, like many teammates, was made inactive for New England’s season finale against the Bills meaning that they all got to rest and heal for two weeks and think about this playoff opener at home against whomever. Belichick at his best.

 

Best Betting Approaches and Trends
When making your NFL picks for this game keep in mind that the last time these two AFC behemoths met was last season in Week 16 when the Patriots went down to Crab City and did a fife and bugle number on the hosts heads, winning 41-7 as 1½ point favorites. But with Flacco so good in the postseason and having not committed a TO in the playoffs since 2011, that game can be tossed out and the big question is can the Ravens QB pull off another upset win against a formidable opponent like New England? And it seems the party comes to an end here for the Ravens (18/1 to win Super Bowl, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) against a Patriots (5/2 to win Super Bowl) team playing all season just to be in the right position for this game—New England isn’t going to be surprised by Baltimore and Belichick will use everyone on his roster and the home crowd will certainly be worth at least the 3 points oddsmakers often say it’s pegged at for most professional games.

Baltimore is 3-1-1 ATS L5 at New England (3-4-2 ATS in the L9) but just 3-9 SU in its L12 against the Patriots, 2-6 SU the L8 on the Road in this series and the Ravens are 4-6-2 ATS in their L12 overall against New England. So, it’s good to be home, where the Patriots are 16-1 SU in their L17. Relevant Totals trends include the Under being 4-1 in the L5 Ravens games; the Under 6-2 L8 in this series at Gillette; and, the Over 10-3 in the Patriots L13 home games, so, this is a mixed bag although the importance of the game and the weather conditions sort of points toward backing the Under 48 but with number so low and fragile and Brady (68-47-4 Home) and Flacco (35-29-4 Away) slinging to able receivers, best to lay off and just back the rested and better team and lay a little lumber.

Predictions: Patriots 34 Ravens 24

NFL Pick: Patriots -7 at The Greek

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