MNF Picks: Indianapolis Colts vs. Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts (1-3 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS)
Date/Time: Monday, October 11, 8:15 PM EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Point Spread: Ind +7 / Balt -7
Over/Under Total: 47
The Indianapolis Colts will travel to Baltimore to battle the Ravens on Monday Night Football. Betanysports.eu has made the Ravens 7 point favorites and set the game total at 47. We hate to lay 7 points in an NFL game, but let’s bite the bullet and buy a Ravens ticket and count on Lamar Jackson and company to cover the touchdown spread. Here are three reasons.
The Raven Offense Is More Balanced
Baltimore sits at 3-1 after the first quarter of the season, but they don’t have their running game to thank. Instead, it’s been the arm of Lamar Jackson has that the offense has been leaning on. Jackson is completing 60% of his passes and averaging a very impressive 8.7 yards per attempt. Hollywood Brown, Mark Andrews, and Sammy Watkins are splitting Jackson’s targets, with all three averaging over 14 yards per catch. The passing game has had to come to the rescue as the running game has been very pedestrian in the early going. Baltimore appears to have settled on Latavius Murray and Le’Veon Bell to lead the running attack despite both looking old and slow. Jackson has been moving the ball through the air and should be able to do so again this week against a Colt defense that is better against the run than the pass. The wildcard with the Raven offense is always Jackson scrambling, which he should have success doing again on Sunday. Ryan Tannehill had 56 rushing yards against the Indy defense two weeks ago, so look for there to be lanes for Jackson to take off as needed.
Indy’s defense is the strength of their team, but they have taken a step back from last year. They are middle of the pack in points allowed and opponents’ yards per play. They have only allowed 4.2 yards per rush, but they have allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league and are allowing 8.4 yards per attempt. Indy has sacked opposing QBs 8 times on the year and will have to get more pressure on Jackson to keep him uncomfortable. Indy has also struggled when their opponents get in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 71% of their trips into the red zone. Baltimore’s offense has been a work in progress since early-season injuries took their toll, but they have been playing better every week, and I look for that to continue against Indy.
Wentz Is a Liability
Carson Wentz was supposed to kick start his career this year as he was reunited with Frank Reich, but it hasn’t happened. Wentz has battled some injuries that may be partly to blame, but he hasn’t been sharp through 4 weeks. He is completing only 63% of his throws while averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt, and he has taken 11 sacks. Wentz has only thrown for five touchdowns, two of which came against Miami. Michael Pittman Jr. has been his most reliable receiver catching 23 balls, but he and Zach Pascal will struggle to get open in Baltimore against a good set of Raven cornerbacks. Indy has had success running the ball and will try to lean on Jonathan Taylor this week to keep the chains moving. Taylor averages 68 yards per game and 4.7 yards per attempt. Indy will have to get the running game going without All-Pro guard Quenton Nelson who is on the shelf again this week. Indy ran the ball for 139 yards against in Miami last week, but it will be a lot tougher sledding in Baltimore.
Baltimore’s defense is also improving each week. The Ravens allowed 68 points in the first two weeks to the Raiders and Chiefs, then tightened up to allow the Lions and Broncos a combined 24 points the last two weeks. The Colts’ offense is a lot more like the Lions and Broncos than they are like the Raiders and Chiefs. Baltimore can play a smothering man to man against Indy’s pedestrian wide receivers, allowing extra bodies to stop the running attack. They will also be able to blitz Wentz and force him to take sacks or make a poor throw that gets picked. Indy is only averaging 326 yards of offense per game despite playing some fairly soft defenses, so look for the Raven defense to dominate the game when they are on the field.
Ravens can Roll Bad Teams
Since Jackson has been at the helm, the Ravens have roasted bad teams, running up the scores for some very lopsided wins. They wear teams down with their relentless running games, so when the score gets a little one-sided, the opponent defense is tired, and the Ravens keep converting first downs and eventually touchdowns. As the Ravens have been passing a little more and faced some tougher run defenses, the game scripts have not played out that way in 2021. Until this week. I look for the Raven rushing attack to get back on track in front of the nationally televised audience and manhandle the Colts. Baltimore’s defense loves to blitz, and they will be able to get home against Wentz. That will just lead to more blitzes and bad quarterback play by Wentz. This is Indy’s 3rd consecutive road game, so they will be tired of the travel and ready to get home. This is a bad setup for Indy, and I think the scoreboard gets ugly. Lay the Points with Lamar and the Ravens
Let’s trust Jackson and the Raven defense to come out and dominate all phases of the Monday Night Football game and bury the Colts. Play the Ravens -7.