Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots Betting Odds and Pick to Cover the Point Spread

Baltimore Ravens (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (3-1 SU,
2-2 ATS), Week 6 NFL, 1:00 p.m. EST, Sunday, October 17, 2010,
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., TV: CBS

by Badger of

Betting Odds: Balt +3/NE -3
Over/Under Total: 44.5

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Two of the top teams in the AFC are set to clash in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough this weekend when the Baltimore Ravens travel to take
on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in an early game on CBS.

The Ravens were very impressive in their 31-17 victory over the
Denver Broncos at home last weekend. Running back Ray Rice and the
Ravens ground attack finally got things going against a weak Denver
run defense to the tune of 233 yards and a 4.9 yard per carry average
in a lopsided win that wasnt even as close as the score indicates.

New England was busy last week too, even though it was their bye week,
making headlines by trading disgruntled receiver Randy Moss to Minnesota
then picking up former Patriot and Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch
in a trade with Seattle.

The Pats must have felt they could get better with addition by
subtraction because the week before their stellar special teams units
blocked kicks and ran back kickoffs for touchdowns in a huge 41-14
victory over their AFC rival Miami Dolphins.

Despite the Patriots romp over Miami and the fact theyve had two
weeks to gameplan for the Ravens, oddsmakers are still only listing
New England as the standard 3-point favorites they typically list for
the home team. Most of the sharp bettors and Joe Public gamblers tend
to agree with the line because the number has only dropped down the
hook to Patriots minus -2.5 at a few sportsbooks on the net.

The over/under total opened at 44.5 and has yet to move in either
direction at most books. The few sportsbooks that have moved the
total have taken the hook out of play by making the number 45.

What should make this game worth watching is the Patriots high-
powered offense against the Ravens top-10 defense.

New England with Brady calling the shots is still the NFLs top
scoring team with an average of 32.8 points per game. They lost their
deep threat by trading Moss away last week, but one could argue they
were using him as a deep-threat decoy anyway so not much will change.

Things might get a little tighter for Wes Welker in the slot, but I
dont expect the Patriots passing game to drop off too much from the
level they were already at (222 ypg passing 15th) prior to the
trade. Especially if Brady has to throw the ball 50 to 60 times,
since I have a hard time believing guys like BenJarvus Green-Ellis
and Danny Woodhead will be able to do much against the Ravens top-10
run defense (101.2 ypg 10th).

The Ravens best defense against Brady might be to keep the ball away
from him by eating up the clock on offense. As mentioned, they were
able to get Rice and the running game on track last week and with the
Patriots defense allowing 112.2 yards per game (20th), it at least
looks like on paper they should be able to control the clock by
running it to death again this week.

Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco is only completing 57 percent of his
passes thus far this season and has more picks (6) than touchdowns
(5), but he should be able to improve on those numbers this week
since the Patriots defense is one of the worst in the league against
the pass (272 ypg 28th).

What the Patriots lack on defense is made up for by their special
teams, with Brandon Tate already having two touchdowns on kickoff
returns this season. If the game is as close as the oddsmakers
predict it will be, the depth of the Pats and their special teams
units could prove to be the deciding factor.

These two teams split their two meetings last year, with New England
beating the Ravens at home 27-21 as slim 1-point favorites in
October, but with the Ravens winning the game that counted more by
beating the Pats 33-14 in the second round of the AFC playoffs in
January (as 3.5-point underdogs).

The playoff game was also played in Gillette Stadium, so the Ravens
are capable of going into the Patriots yard to beat them even though
they are just 1-3-1 ATS in their last five visits to New England.

However, the home team has enjoyed home cooking in this head-to-head
matchup over the years going 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.

The betting trends in regards to the over/under total are
conflicting. New England has gone over in nine of their last 14 home
games and the over is also 6-0 in their last six tries against an AFC
opponent. But the Ravens have stayed under the total in their last
four roadies and the under is 10-4-1 in their last 15 games versus an
AFC opponent.

Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the Ravens in this game simply because I dont
expect the Patriots defense to be able to stop them, but Im scared
to pull the trigger with the Pats coming off their bye week. So Im
going to hedge that by taking the over, in what I expect to be a
28-24 or 31-21 type of game with little defense. Take the over of 44.5.