Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Baltimore Ravens Pick ATS

by | Dec 17, 2020 | nfl

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-12 SU, 6-7 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (8-5 SU, 7-6 ATS)

When: Sunday, December 20, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore

TV: CBS

Point Spread: JAX +13/BAL -13 (Best Bitcoin Sportsbooks)

Total: 47.5

Outlook

Boy, did the Ravens need that win in Cleveland? Baltimore had been struggling to get any kind of positive momentum going before its trip to northeast Ohio, and a loss to the Browns would have all but finished off any hopes the Ravens had of making the playoffs. At 8-5, the Ravens are very much alive and would be in control of their own fate with a little help from their new best friends in Pittsburgh. If the Steelers come through with a win in either Week 16 (Indianapolis) or Week 17 (Cleveland), all the Ravens have to do is win their three remaining games, and they’ll be in the playoffs.

But before the Ravens can worry about getting help from their biggest rivals, they’ve got to take care of business against a Jacksonville team that is locked into a race for the No. 1 draft pick. Only three NFL teams have fewer than four wins this season, so barring a miracle, the Jaguars will be picking in the top three in next year’s draft. That means the pressure is really on for Gardner Minshew, because if Trevor Lawrence is sitting there when the Jaguars are on the clock, Minshew is probably out of a job. During the lead-up to the game, Minshew spoke like a man who expects to be soon wearing another team’s uniform, and the odds are that he plans to use these final three games to try to impress his next employer.

That’s probably the case for all of the Jaguars, actually, as it’s expected that coach Doug Marrone will start 2021 with a request that he seek employment elsewhere. That means that Jacksonville might not be the typical hopeless team that packs it in with nothing to play for. The Jaguars have been tough on their opponents during this 12-game skid, as four of their past six defeats have come by four points or less. Jacksonville probably isn’t going to deflate Baltimore’s playoff hopes, but is there value here for gamblers?

How the Public is Betting the Jacksonville/Baltimore Game

Both the public and the money are in sync on this game, as 65 percent of the tickets have come in on the Ravens. The money has pushed the line from -11 to -13, with the total jumping from 46 to 47.5

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Injury Concerns

Jacksonville:
Offensive lineman Brandon Linder (ankle), cornerback Tre Herndon (illness), defensive tackle Davon Hamilton (knee), tight end Ben Ellefson (knee), and safety Daniel Thomas (arm) are out indefinitely. Offensive lineman Ben Barch (illness) and defensive tackle Abry Jones (ankle) are on injured reserve. Defensive back Chris Claybrooks (groin), offensive lineman Andrew Norwell (forearm), linebacker Kamalei Correa (hamstring), and safety Josh Jones (shoulder) are questionable.

Baltimore:
Wide receiver James Proche II (illness), wide receiver Miles Boykin (illness), wide receiver Marquise Brown (illness), cornerback Terrell Bonds (knee), linebacker Matthew Judon (ankle), tight end Mark Andrews (thigh), quarterback Robert Griffin III (hamstring), safety Geno Stone (illness) and cornerback Khalil Dorsey (shoulder) are out indefinitely. Cornerback Tavon Young (knee), cornerback Iman Marshall (knee), and quarterback Trace McSorley (knee) are on injured reserve. Wide receiver Chris Moore (knee), cornerback Tramon Williams (thigh), defensive tackle Broderick Washington (concussion), cornerback Jimmy Smith (shoulder), and tackle Luke Wilson (hip) are questionable.

When Jacksonville Has the Ball

Minshew has absolutely nothing to lose, so expect him to come out throwing. Running the ball really isn’t all that advisable against Baltimore anyway, so the Jaguars aren’t likely to build the game plan around James Robinson, even though he’s been fairly effective on the ground. Keepin mind, this is a defense that Baker Mayfield just shredded for more than 340 passing yards, even if all but one of Cleveland’s touchdowns came on the ground. Marrone and his team will likely model their game plan after the Browns’ success throwing against Baltimore and let Minshew take his shots.

If it’s going to work, Minshew has to take advantage of the deep ball when it presents itself. One of the biggest problems Minshew has faced is that he hasn’t always been able to hit deep shots downfield, resulting in the Jaguars leaving points on the field. But with the Jaguars 1-12 and owners of the league’s most bizarre kicking situation (the Jaguars have used six different kickers this year), Jacksonville probably isn’t going to be worried about field goals too often in this game. If Minshew isn’t finding his receivers, it’s difficult to see the Jaguars keeping pace.

When Baltimore Has the Ball

At this point, if I’m John Harbaugh, I seriously consider making a drive south to Virginia to speak with single-wing offense guru Mickey Thompson about helping the Ravens convert to the single wing, because Lamar Jackson isn’t doing much passing at all these days. Yes, Jackson did have the game-winning touchdown pass against Cleveland on a busted play, but for the most part, the Ravens are running the ball. Outside of two long passes, Baltimore did nothing through the air and still scored 47 points, which says that Jackson is good enough with his legs that it doesn’t really matter if he tries to pass or not.

Truth be told, it really isn’t Jackson’s fault that the Ravens aren’t passing the ball. He’s hitting his throws, and he isn’t trying to do too much. But Baltimore’s receivers have been decimated by illness, leaving J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards as the primary weapons for the Ravens. Of course, they’re both running backs. What makes the Ravens hard to stop is they know that their running game is solid, and they know that if the opposition doesn’t respect the pass, they can trust Jackson to find the open man and make the defense pay. It’s not the prettiest way to play, but it’s pretty effective when it’s done right.

Betting Trends

These teams don’t face off often thanks to the Ravens’ success and the Jaguars’ ineptitude, but when they do play, wise bettors have thrown their money on the Jaguars. Jacksonville has covered in each of its past five meetings against Baltimore, every time as the underdog. It hasn’t mattered if the game is in Florida or Maryland in recent years; the home team has covered in seven of the last ten meetings, and the two exceptions were the Jaguars’ two covers at M&T Bank Stadium during the past five meetings.

However, Baltimore is playing at a time when it does its best. December is the Ravens’ time, as they’ve now covered in seven straight games during the final month of the year. Baltimore’s also not exactly been friendly to offenses in this matchup: the under has hit in four of the past five matchups between the teams in Maryland.

Weather Report

It’ll be cold by the Jaguars’ standards, but at least they’ll avoid the snowstorm that hit the northern part of I-95 during the week. It’s expected to be 47 and cloudy on Sunday, with winds blowing southwest at five miles per hour.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

As inconsistent as Baltimore has been, the Ravens have been dynamite in December, and it’s held true again. After covering in just one of their five previous games, the Ravens have three straight covers to their name this month, and the offense has put up 81 points in the past two weeks. I don’t love giving this many points, especially when Jacksonville hasn’t been getting blown out, but I’m just not buying the idea of Minshew getting things back on track with nothing to play for here.

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