New York Giants (8-6 SU, 6-7-1 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-5 SU, 5-8-1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 23rd, 2012, 4:25 p.m. EST
Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
TV: FOX/DirecTV 717
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYG -2/BAL. +2
Over/Under Total: 47.5
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The roller coaster ride that is the New York Giants 2012 season will make it’s next stop in Baltimore, where the defending Super Bowl champs will take on the struggling Baltimore Ravens in a Sunday late afternoon game featuring two teams trying to get momentum back on their side before the playoffs.
That is, if the Giants can make it into the NFC playoffs.
With a season filled with some disappointing losses, the Giants suffered their most disappointing one yet after last week’s sleepwalk in Atlanta, 34-0. With three turnovers and only 256 yards of total offense, the Giants were shutout for the first time in 16 years in what the Falcons were treating as a “passing of the torch” as the team to beat in the NFC.
Worse yet, the loss dropped the Giants into a three-way tie atop the NFC East with Washington and Dallas, and by virtue of their 2-3 record inside the division if the season ended today the Giants would finish in third place and out of the NFC playoffs just a few weeks after destroying both the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.
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Baltimore is in a funk of their own right now, stuck in a three-game losing streak with no end in sight following last week’s loss to the Denver Broncos at home, 34-17. The Ravens will get to the AFC playoffs though, but only because the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to Dallas on Sunday, not because they are playing “playoff caliber” football right now.
The Ravens were hoping a change at the top would awaken their sleeping offense, but with Jim Caldwell taking over the play-calling duties Joe Flacco and company were still stuck in neutral with only 278 yards of offense, three sacks allowed, two turnovers and nearly 18 minutes less possession time than the Broncos (i.e. too many three-and-outs, only 12 first downs).
Its gotten so bleak in Baltimore that when oddsmakers opened Sunday’s game with the Giants as a pick ’em, so many bettors are fading the fading Ravens that the Giants have quickly become a 2-point favorite on the road. The same Giants team that lost 34-0 on Sunday, a result that usually causes the short-memory weekend bettor to run to the other side in a hurry.
I can’t remember the last time the Ravens were home dogs, can you? They were even favorites at home back in week three when the mighty Patriots came calling, so the Ravens ship is sinking fast and it looks like the betting world is already lining up to get their spot in the life boat.
The over/under total opened at 47 and has gone up the hook to 47.5 at most sportsbooks.
Part of the reason the Ravens changed offensive coordinators was because many within the organization thought the old OC Cam Cameron wasn’t using running back Ray Rice enough. With only 12 carries last Sunday versus Denver, it looks like Caldwell forgot to read the memo that said they should give Rice the ball more. If Baltimore doesn’t try and attack a Giants defense that gives up 124 yards a game rushing (22nd in NFL) with more touches for Rice, then maybe they deserve their fate.
But the real reason for the Ravens slide is a defense that just isn’t the same as it was the past few years. The Ravens defense is ranked 26th in the NFL (374 ypg), and even though they are set to get middle linebacker Ray Lewis back this week, with Lewis and end Terrell Suggs playing hurt, it’s hard to imagine Lewis will help much except with motivation and inspiration.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning has thrown 15 interceptions this year, four in the last two weeks, and many insiders speculate it’s because the Giants just don’t run the ball with the same determination anymore. Ahmad Bradshaw has been hurt all season, and rookie David Wilson is still gaining the trust of the coaching staff, but if the Giants don’t go right at the Ravens and their 26th-ranked run defense this week (132 ypg), even if Lewis does play, then they also have nobody to blame but themselves.
The last time these two met in their NFC-AFC series was in 2008, a 30-10 win for the Giants at home as 7-point favorites. Baltimore had won three straight prior to that, including a 37-14 victory the last time these two met in Baltimore.
Baltimore has been a lousy wager all season, but they’ve been especially risky at home where they are 1-5 ATS in their last six at M&T Bank Stadium. New York hasn’t broke the bank this year either, but they are traditionally a better bet on the road (38-18-1 in L57 road games) even though they are only 3-4 ATS on the road this season.
The Giants-Ravens series only meets every four years, but the last four times they’ve played the game has gone over the total with a 3-0-1 mark. However, the total has never closed above 44 in any of those games (remember when they played defense?), so if the total closes at 47.5 where it’s sitting right now it will be the highest number yet that these two will have to chase.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a really tough game to bet. There are quite a few big name players out on both sides of the ball. One on hand you’ve got the Giants who are averaging 9.3 points over their last 3 road games at the Ravens who uncharacteristically have given up over 30 points in each of their last two games. How do the Giants go from scoring 52 points one week to getting shut out the next. I’m not betting this game but if I was, I’d be taking the over 47.5.
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