Washington Redskins (7-4) +5, 36 O/U at Baltimore Ravens (8-4) -5,
36 O/U, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md., 8:15 PM Eastern, Sunday, NBC
by Badger of Predictem.com
Two teams jockeying for their playoff lives lock horns Sunday in M&T
Bank Stadium when the Washington Redskins travel to face the
Baltimore Ravens on NBCs Sunday Night Football in America.
The Redskins will be looking to keep their NFC wildcard hopes alive
and try and rebound from a disappointing 23-7 loss last weekend at
home to their rival New York Giants. After starting the season with a
6-2 record and looking like one of the top teams in the NFC, the
Redskins have fallen on hard times lately losing three of their last
four games. The losing spell has allowed a few teams to pass them up
and if the playoffs were to start today, the Redskins would on the
outside looking in, so its a must win game this weekend if the
Redskins hope to keep pace with the pack.
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Baltimore is one of the surprises of the AFC this season. Not much
was expected of the Ravens with a rookie head coach in John Harbaugh
and a rookie starting quarterback in Joe Flacco, but they have won
six of their last seven games and have kicked the door in to emerge
right smack dab in the middle of the AFC playoff picture. The Ravens
are also coming off of a statement victory in their 34-3 thrashing of
Cincinnati last Sunday, with that statement being that they will not
be going away anytime soon.
Most bookies opened the game with the Ravens as 5-point favorites at
home, and the number has held firm through early betting, but a lot
of offshore sportsbooks have taken the game off the board completely
due to the uncertain status of Redskins running back Clinton Portis.
The over/under total opened at a measly 36.5 and it too has held firm
through early wagering, although there are several books that have
dropped it a hook to 36. But again, the chance of bad weather has the
total currently off the board at a large majority of books both
offshore and in Las Vegas. The moneyline lists the Ravens as -235
favorites, with the Redskins as +215 underdogs.
As mentioned, the game is off the board in most places due to the
health of Washingtons star running back Portis. Portis has been
dealing with a balky knee, and although he played last week versus
the Giants, he was largely ineffective with only 22 yards on 11
carries. When Portis is healthy, he IS the Redskins offense as they
average 139.4 yards per game on the ground, which is the 5th-best
total in the NFL.
The Redskins need Portis to make their West Coast offense work because quarterback Jason Campbell has become the king of the check-
down pass. The Skins only throw for 199.7 yards per game (20th), and
tend to have trouble once the reach the red zone and teams stack the
box, as they are just 28th in the league in scoring at 19.3 points
Baltimores offense has been surprisingly good this season under the
direction of the rookie Flacco, with season averages (323.9 ypg
19th; 144.2 ypg rushing 3rd; 24.3 ppg 10th) that are typical of
Ravens teams the last decade. Showing a maturity most rookies dont
display until a few years are under their belt, Flacco has been
efficient (12 TD, 9 INT, 61 comp %) and has stayed within the Ravens
scheme, which is reliant on a power running game and a dominant defense.
Speaking of defense, two of the leagues best face off in this game.
Baltimore is 2nd in yards allowed (253.3 ypg), 2nd versus the pass
(175.2 ypg), 3rd versus the run (78.1 ypg) and 3rd in points allowed
(15.8 ppg). Last week they held the Bengals to just 155 yards of
total offense (57 rushing, 98 passing), and while it did come against
the Bengals, its still impressive nonetheless.
Washingtons defense isnt exactly chopped liver either, as they are
ranked 6th overall (283.4 ypg), 8th versus the pass (192.6 ypg), 7th
versus the run (90.8 ypg) and 6th in points allowed (18.5 ppg). They
did get gouged for 404 total yards last week versus the Giants, but
the Giants are 11-1 and perhaps the best team in the league so thats
not really an knock on their abilities.
These two havent met in the regular season since the 2005 campaign, which ended up as a 26-20 overtime victory for the Ravens in the season opener in Baltimore. Baltimore also won the previous game, a
17-10 decision in 2004 played at FedEx Field. All told, the Ravens
hold a slim 4-3 edge both straight up and against the spread in the
last seven games between these two in the regular season. Five of
those seven games ended under the total.
Surprisingly, the over is 7-2 in Baltimores last nine home games at
M&T Bank Stadium. The over is also 6-0-1 in the Ravens last seven
games overall. The betting trend is the exact opposite for the
Redskins, as it is the under that is 7-0-1 in the Skins last eight
The Ravens are a cash-machine like 9-3 ATS this season, including an
impressive 6-1 ATS record in their last seven games and a 5-1 ATS
mark at home. Meanwhile, despite being 1-5-1 ATS in the last seven
games the Redskins seem to play well when the weather turns cold, as
they are 4-0 ATS in their last four games in December.
Badgers Pick: I would say that at 9-3 ATS, its time to jump on the
Ravens bandwagon if youre not already on it. But even though the
game is at home, I still think 5 points is too high of a spread here.
So Im taking the Redskins plus the 5-points here in a game they lose
on a late field goal.