Baltimore Ravens (2-2) +4 , 39 at Indianapolis Colts (2-2), 1 pm Eastern Sunday, CBS
by Zman of Predictem.com
The Baltimore Ravens, with a new head coach and a rookie starting at quarterback, are off to a better start than was expected this NFL season, following up a 3-13 campaign of last year with two wins in their first four games.
Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Colts, with several key players coming off serious injuries after a quick exit from the playoffs last season, have struggled a bit so far this season, and should consider themselves fortunate to be where they’re at, which is 2-2.
Thus is the situation as the Ravens travel to the most recent home of the franchise that preceded them in Crab City for an interesting AFC inter-divisional bout Sunday afternoon.
NFL bookies opened this game favoring Indy by six points, but that number quickly fell to 4 . The total opened at 39, and has held steady in early action. Also, the Colts can be gotten at -200 on the moneylines at a couple of off-shore outlets, while others are offering the Ravens at upwards of +185.
Baltimore opened this season with wins over Cincinnati and Cleveland, but has lost tough back-to-back games since, at Pittsburgh and, last Sunday, at home to Tennessee on a late touchdown. And a season after going 3-13 against the spread, the Ravens are 3-1 ATS so far this year.
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Indianapolis opened this season with a bad loss to Chicago, then escaped the Metrodome with a win over the Vikings, after trailing 15-0 late in the third quarter. The Colts then coughed up a late 4th-quarter lead and lost on a last-second field goal to Jacksonville, but pulled one out of their collective rear ends last week, using a fumble return for a touchdown to rally from 17 points down in the last four minutes to win in Houston 31-27. So while the Colts are 2-2, they could be 0-4. Or 3-1.
And the Colts have lost their first two games in their new Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the QB match-up, Ravens rookie Joe Flacco has completed 58% of his passes this season, which ranks in the lower third among NFL quarterbacks, for a 5.7 yards-per-attempt average, which is very low, and a 1-4 TD/INT ratio. All of which computes to a 61.9 passing rating. Meanwhile, Peyton Manning and his group of targets have looked a little off so far this season. Manning has completed 62% of his throws for a 6.7 YPA average and a 5/5 TD/INT ratio, which computes to a 79.2 rating.
Also, while Baltimore is outrushing opponents by a 154-64 yards-per-game margin, Indianapolis is getting out-grounded by an alarming 189-68 average.
The Ravens lead the league in total defense, allowing just 193 yards per game this season, and defending the run at 64 YPG, and rank 3rd in points allowed at 14 per game. But they also rank 24th in total offense at 290 YPG, and while 4th in rushing at 154 YPG, just 31st in passing at 136 YPG.
Indy, meanwhile, ranks 16th in total offense at 313 YPG but dead last in rushing at 68 YPG. The Colts also rank 25th in total defense at 353 YPG and last vs. the run at 189 YPG.
These two teams played last December, with Indy on its way to the playoffs and Baltimore on its way to the AFC North cellar. The Colts, with the help of five Ravens turnovers, jumped out to a 30-0 second-quarter lead, and coasted to a 44-20 victory in Baltimore, covering the spread as eight-point road chalk.
The totals are 2-2 both in Ravens games this season and Colts games. But Baltimore games are averaging just 33 total points, while Indianapolis games are averaging 44 points. On the season, NFL totals have gone 42-31-1, as the games have averaged 44.5 total points.
The injury report on this game is long and includes several key names on both sides. So bettors may want to take another look at who’s in and who’s not as game-time approaches before laying some money down.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Baltimore 10th at 25.1, Indy 20th at 18.1. Sagarin’s current NFL home-field advantage figure is 2.5.
Zman’s Pick: The Colts are getting healthy. Baltimore’s D is scary, but I don’t figure them being able to score enough points to cover this low line.