Baltimore Ravens (10-5, 8-6-1 ATS) vs. Oakland Raiders (5-10, 7-8 ATS), NFL Week 17, Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Sunday, Jan. 3rd, 4:15 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Ravens -10 1/2/Raiders +10 1/2
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The Baltimore Ravens have had some ups and downs this year, but they enter the final week of the regular season with a very simple premise; if they beat the Oakland Raiders Sunday afternoon out in NoCal, they claim one of the AFC Wild Card spots in the playoffs. If they lose, they’re out.
Most online NFL betting outlets opened Baltimore as a 10-point road favorite over Oakland, with a total of 38. As of Thursday morning many of those sportsbooks had bumped the Ravens to -10 or -11, while the total had held steady.
The Ravens are also listed at around -600 on most moneylines, with the Raiders getting upwards of +500 to win outright as home underdogs.
Coming off a run to the AFC championship game last season, Baltimore started 3-0 this season, then lost three straight by a total of 11 points. They then alternated wins and losses for six weeks, then won two straight, over Detroit and Chicago, by a combined score of 79-10. But with a chance to lock up a playoff berth last week in Pittsburgh, the Ravens committed a bunch of errors, as in 11 penalties for over 100 yards and a crucial dropped touchdown pass, and lost 23-20.
Nonetheless, Baltimore still has its playoff destiny in its own hands.
On the other side of this match-up, Oakland, with its anemic offense, lost seven of its first nine games this season. But the Raiders have shown some life recently, going 3-3 over their last six games. And included among their five victories this season are wins over 11-4 Philadelphia, 10-5 Cincinnati, 8-7 Pittsburgh and 8-7 Denver.
Unfortunately, it will be a seventh-straight losing season for the Silver and Black.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco has had a solid second season as a professional, completing 63% of his passes for 7.3 YPA, with 21 TD passes, 12 interceptions and an 89.5 passing rating. Baltimore ranks 14th in the league in total offense at 353 YPG and seventh in rushing at 131 YPG.
Defensively, the Ravens rank third overall at 299 YPG and sixth vs. the run at 96 YPG.
Meanwhile, Oakland has gotten miserable play out of the quarterback position this season. JaMarcus Russell, Brad Gradkowski and Charlie Frye have all had their chances, and the one who’s done the most good, Gradkowski, is out of action with a sore knee. The Raiders don’t trust Russell, so it looks like Frye, who threw for 333 yards last week vs. Cleveland but also tossed three INTs, will get the start Sunday.
Oakland ranks 31st in the league in offense at 262 YPG, 18th in rushing at 110 YPG, 27th in total defense at 364 YPG and 29th vs. the run at 150 YPG.
Baltimore also ranks 18th in the league in average time-of-possession at 29:24, while Oakland ranks 28th at 28:02.
These two teams met in week eight of last season, when the Ravens beat the Raiders 29-10 in Baltimore, outgaining Oakland 375-234 and covering the pointspread as nine-point favorites.
The totals are 6-8-1 in Ravens games this season, which have averaged 41 points, and 7-8 in Raiders games, which have averaged just 36 points, mainly because Oakland is scoring less than two touchdowns per game.
These two teams have played six common opponents this season. Baltimore went 6-3 straight up vs. the Chiefs, Chargers, Broncos, Bengals, Steelers and Browns, and 5-3-1 against the pointspreads; meanwhile, Oakland went 4-5 SU vs. those six teams, and 6-3 ATS.
Through the first 16 weeks of NFL betting action this season, double-digit favorites are 51-7 straight up but only 29-28 vs. the pointspreads. And home underdogs are 30-53 SU and 41-41 ATS.
The Sagarin PURE POINTS ratings at USAToday.com rates Baltimore at 27.9, Oakland at 9.9. Factoring in Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage figure of 2.3, and the Ravens are favored by 15 points over the Raiders on the Sagarin line.
Zman’s Pick: Look for an all out effort from the Ravens this Sunday as they are likely to win the game but I believe Oakland covers the point spread.