New York Jets (2-1 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (2-1 SU, 2-1 ATS), 8:20 p.m. EST, Week 4 NFL, Sunday, October 2, 2011, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md., TV: NBC
by Badger, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NYJ +3.5/Bal -3.5
Over/Under Total: 40
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Two of the AFCs best teams square off on Sunday Night Football on NBC this week, when the New York Jets travel to M&T Bank Stadium to face the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC clash that will likely have playoff ramifications all over it before the seasons end.
The Jets enter the game with the Ravens with a belly full of humble pie courtesy of a, 34-24, loss at Oakland last Sunday. The heralded Jets defense gave up an embarrassing 234 yards rushing on the ground to the Raiders in the loss, so they will certainly be itching to get redemption against the run-heavy Ravens this week in primetime.
Baltimore is coming into the showdown off of a lopsided, 37-7, victory over the St. Louis Rams in a game where Joe Flacco had 389 yards passing and three scores practically before halftime. In three weeks now the Ravens have been lights-out twice, with big offense in big wins over the Steelers and Rams, so now they have to avoid the letdown game in between like the dud at Tennessee two weeks ago.
This game should be a great one to watch too since it offers a playoff-like quality on paper and on the field, especially since both teams will want to measure themselves against the higher caliber opponent and compete in a no-holds barred cage match for early momentum in the AFC.
The oddsmakers out in Las Vegas opened this game with the Ravens as 3.5-point favorites, only a half-point above the standard 3-point homefield advantage usually given in an even-matched game in the NFL. The early steam at the window hasnt produced much line movement either, as a few sportsbooks have dropped the number down to minus -3-points, but a large majority of them are still sitting right at the 3.5-point mark still waiting for action.
The over/under total opened at 39.5 and was adjusted quickly at most online sportsbooks to its current total of 40. Theres even a few bookies already up to 40.5, so look for the total to continue to trend upward as kickoff approaches.
Offensively this game will hinge around the running game, not because both offenses are built to feature it but because both defenses will have to prove they can stop it if they want to hoist a trophy at seasons end.
The Jets were gouged by Darren McFadden and the Raiders last week, but their run defense was only allowing 3.3 yards per carry in the two weeks before the aberration against the Raiders. However, the Ravens and tag-team of Ray Rice and Ricky Williams are averaging 127.7 yards per game on the ground (8th in NFL), so well certainly find out if the Jets run defense is up to the task.
Baltimore has been so strong against the run thus far (allow 84 ypg rushing 6th), that teams are starting to prefer passing over the top of the Ravens stout front seven. The Jets and QB Mark Sanchez have shown they are willing to throw it if they have too (36 attempts vs. Dallas; 43 vs. Oakland), but if they dont start getting Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson going on the ground it could turn into a beating for Sanchez facing third-and-longs all night.
As you would expect, these two teams played a black-n-blue snot-knocker last year with the Ravens winning the battle of attrition, 10-9. Baltimore had no problem moving the ball (Balt. 282 yards; NYJ - 176 yards), but they had three turnovers that kept the mistake-prone (14 penalties) Jets in the game all night.
The win continued the Ravens recent dominance over the Jets, running their win streak to six straight games dating back to 1998. Not only do the Ravens hold a 6-0 SU advantage, but they also hold a 7-1 ATS advantage over the Jets going back to 1994.
The one betting trend that points in favor of the Jets is the fact that the road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meeting between these two head-to-head.
Historically the under has been a strong play in this series, with it cashing at 2-0-1 in the last three head-to-head and 6-3-1 if you tae it out over the last 10 meetings.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Jets are in a rebound spot in this game after playing a forgettable game against the Raiders last week. But I expect the Ravens to make it extremely hard for them to score, so as far as Im concerned theres no total low enough. Ravens win in a classic 20-10 or 17-14 battle royale. Im betting the under of 40.
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