Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11 SU, 3-9-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (8-5 SU, 7-5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date and Time: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: MT&T Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: JAC +14.5/BALT -14.5
Over/Under Total: 45
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On Sunday, the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to MT&T Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens in a key AFC match-up. Obviously at 2-11, there isnt a lot on the line for the Jags. But at 8-5 in a top-heavy AFC North division and a congested wild card picture, the Ravens look to make a big push in their last three games. On Sunday, they kept pace with a big 28-13 road win against the Dolphins.
It looked rough for Baltimore on Sunday, as the Dolphins cruised out to a 10-0 lead. Baltimore slowly worked their way into the game and their defense tightened up, as they outscored the Dolphins 28-3 over the final 3 quarters for the win. Flacco had another good game in what has been a nice bounce-back season for the veteran quarterback. RB Justin Forsett had another nice showing and is among the league leaders at 1070 yards–making him one of the leagues surprise performers for 2014. First-year Ravens veteran receiver Steve Smith has been productive, with a cabaret of other players making their presence felt on this offense.
The Jaguars lost 27-13 on Sunday to the Texans, which followed their second win of the season against the Giants the previous week. Theyre one of the worst teams in football at 2-11, steeped in a long run of losing seasons. But this season actually offers some promise. They are young and were talking about an offense where most of the key pieces are made of rookies and second-year guys. They need time to grow.
QB Blake Bortles has struggled on a team with a thin cast of playmakers and a slew of injuries. But his performance under the conditions hasnt been all that bad. You see the 2-11 record and the TD-to-INT ratio of 10/16 and its easy to discount the good things hes doing. They struggle to find consistent playmakers, but RB Denard Robinson has stepped up this season. Rookie receivers Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee have enjoyed their share of moments. But at the same time, no other offense has scored less points than the Jaguars this season.
Unfortunately for the Jaguars, the defense has not been able to pick up the slack, as they have been under pressure the entire season, with injuries and the offense putting them in one bad spot after the next. The defense is 29th in the NFL in points allowed and this is the 27th-ranked defense overall. They turn the ball over a lot and the defense has not been one that has made a lot of plays. Its been two months since they lost a game by only single-digits. And with only 3 covers, theyve been unable to take advantage of some juicy point-spreads.
Baltimore has won 3 out of 4 games, following a bad stretch where it looked like their season was getting a bit sideways. They took a hard home loss against San Diego two weeks ago, when a big late-game San Diego spurt prevented what looked like a sure win. And after falling behind 10-0 against Miami on Sunday, it was time to put up or shut up and Baltimore responded with zeal, dominating a Miami team the rest of the way for a win that could go a long way.
The unexpected blossoming of Forsett has helped make the Ravens one of the more formidable rushing teams in the league–ranked 5th. At 27.4 points per game, they are the 7th highest-scoring team in the league. And as good as they run the ball, theyre even better at stopping it, with opposing running backs having a lot of trouble gaining much foothold. The problem with the Ravens defense is in stopping the pass, where only one team has given up more aerial yardage than Baltimore. Still, at 19.6 points per game, the defense is ranked 6th in points allowed.
In Baltimores 8 wins, only 2 of them were really close. In 6 of their wins, they have won by margins that exceed this point spread. So when theyre on, they usually win emphatically. And while theyve beaten some good teams, they are especially adept at dominating teams that seem outmanned on paper, with lopsided wins over teams like Carolina, Tampa, Atlanta, and Tennessee.
As we approach this final stretch of the regular season, we need to remind ourselves not to get carried away betting on teams who seem to have a higher sense of urgency. Baltimore is playing for their postseason future. But how much should that affect the point spread? In times like this, the urge is to take the team that has more to play for. But these numbers can start getting out of line, as bettors need extra incentive to take a team like Jacksonville in a difficult road spot like this, facing a team that has a lot riding on the line. I think the Ravens win, but that the Jaguars will hang around and cover the spread.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Jacksonville Jaguars plus 14.5 points.