Baltimore Ravens (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-1 SU, 0-0-1 ATS), 1:00 p.m. EST, Week 2 NFL, Sunday, September 18, 2011, LP Field, Nashville, Tenn., TV: CBS
by Badger, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bal -6/TEN +6
Over/Under Total: 37.5
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The new-look Tennessee Titans came so close to completing a second half comeback to steal a win in their opener last weekend, so instead the Titans will try a second time at their first win of the season in week two NFL action when they host one of the best teams in the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens Sunday at LP Field.
Tennessee had the ball with a chance to drive for a shot at a game-winning field goal, but a desperate Matt Hasselbeck heave was intercepted by Jacksonville to end the Titans miraculous comeback attempt in their, 16-14, loss to the Jaguars.
While the Titans and new coach Mike Munchak can take pride in the fact they still had a chance at winning the game despite their overall lousy play (43 yards rushing, 13 first downs, only 20 minutes of possession), they better get things tightened up quickly because they wont even have a chance with that kind of performance this Sunday.
Thats because the Ravens come to town this week, the same team that looked like the team to beat in the AFC this season when they absolutely destroyed the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in their opener, 35-7. With an improved offense led by the steady and improving Joe Flacco (224 yards, 3 TD), and a defense that still has that dominating swagger and takeaway ability (6 turnovers), the Ravens sure look like a team that is going to cause a whole lot of problems to opponents this season.
The point spread in this game has been the big mover of the week too, opening late on Sunday with the Ravens listed as 4-point favorites on the road. The early bettors at the window, fresh off of watching the Ravens destroy the Steelers, hammered the Ravens quickly to drive the number all the way up to Baltimore minus -6-points at most of the larger sportsbooks in Las Vegas. Some of the smaller offshore sportsbooks on the Web are currently listing the spread at -5.5, so you can move the half-point hook in your favor if youd like it.
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The over/under total opened at 37.5 and has held firm at that number through early wagering. You might find a 38 listed as the total at a few books in Las Vegas, but for the large majority of books on the Internet the total is holding firm at 37.5.
Its not so much of a surprise that the Ravens offense played their prototypical game in the opener balance the ground game (31 carries,170 yards, 5.4 ypc) evenly with the passing game (29 attempts, 215 yards) to take advantage of play-action what is the surprise is that they did against the Steelers heralded defense.
The Ravens offense could have went for the throat if they didnt sputter out in the Red Zone, going 3-of-6 in Red Zone efficiency and settling for field goals on two of those trips. They also had costly penalties at time (7-for-75 yards), which is another area the Ravens can still clean up in order to get better.
The Titans defense used a bend but not break attitude against the Jags in the opener, standing up pretty well along the front seven considering the Jaguars pounded it 47 times. The difference is that Flacco and his weapons outside (Anquan Boldin, Lee Evans, Ed Dickson) are much more talented than anyone the Jags threw at the Titans defense (Ill give you a wash on Marcedes Lewis maybe), so the unit will have to tighten up to give the offense a chance this Sunday.
The Tennessee offense Im referring to is the one that used to hand the ball to Chris Johnson and try and control the game and the clock. The Titans didnt do that at all in the opener, with just 43 yards on only 13 carries the whole game and thus only 20 minutes of possession time. Those two areas must change or it wont matter how good the Titans defense plays week to week.
With the exception of a fluky-lucky flip pass to Kenny Britt hat went 80 yards for a score, the Titans new quarterback Hasselbeck was effective in play-action in the opener. While the Jaguars have a good defense, theyre nothing like the pressure the Ravens will bring, which is something the fragile Hasselbeck should be worried about for sure.
The last time these two teams met at LP Field it was for the right to go to the AFC Championship game in 2009, a game the Ravens won, 13-10, on a 53-yard Matt Stover field goal in the final minute in Flaccos rookie year.
The Ravens covered as 3-point underdogs in that game, but thats the only time the Ravens have covered in this head-to-head series since 2002.
In fact, this series is the complete polar opposite since 2002. From 2000 to 02 the Ravens owned the series (5-0 SU, 5-0 ATS), but since the 02 season the Titans have evened the series on the field (3-2 SU) while going 4-1ATS at the window for bettors.
The underdog is a rock-solid 16-5 in the last 21 meetings in the head-to-head series.
The under also is a strong betting trend in this series, with the under going 6-1-1 in the last eight meetings since 2001.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Yes, Baltimore blew out Pit last week and they look GREAT. Laying 6 points on the road versus a much improved Titan team isn’t going to be a winner over the long term. Tennessee getting +6 at home covers a handful of key numbers (common final score margins) and is a great betting value here. Take Tennessee as tough as it may seem to do.
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