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Ravens Dominant When Hosting West Coast teams, Face Raiders as Heavy Favorites

Terrell Suggs

Following a key divisional victory, the Baltimore Ravens have kept pace in a crowded AFC wild-card race. They’ll look to stay near the front of the pack as they host the Oakland Raiders at M&T Bank Stadium. As they are a playoff contender, while Oakland is lottery-bound, the Ravens come into the game as 11-point favorites, and the total is set at 42.5 points.

SHARK BITES
  • The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Oakland’s last 17 games (avg. combined score: 42.76).
  • The UNDER has hit in six of Baltimore’s last eight games (avg. combined score: 38.88).
  • Baltimore is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games when hosting a West Coast team.

Raiders vs Ravens Game Center

MY PICK FOR SUNDAY: RAIDERS +11

Yes, the Oakland Raiders are 2-8, while Baltimore is 5-5. Yes, Oakland is on the road against a hostile defense, with a team that cannot afford to lose this game. And yes, Oakland’s last five losses have been by double digits. So why am I picking Oakland to cover the spread?

Game script.

With starting quarterback Joe Flacco injured, the Ravens turned to rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson. They pulled out a win, but it came in a rather unconventional fashion: Jackson attempted 19 passes, but ran the ball 27 times. That resulted in Jackson gaining 150 yards through the air (with no touchdowns and one interception) and 117 yards on the ground.  

Combine Jackson’s day with 27 carries from non-quarterbacks, and Baltimore ran the ball a whopping 54 times in Week 11. While they put up 24 points on the day, that many carries equates to long drives and lots of clock being chewed up.

They may not run that many times in Week 12, but we’d still expect another run-heavy offensive scheme. That would allow an Oakland offense, which has been up-and-down in scoring but has still been gaining yards each week, to stay around in the game. 

You can still only score seven or eight points per drive, and longer drives means fewer chances to score. I have no doubt that Baltimore will win this game, but looking at how this will likely play out — lots of running and slowly grinding the game away — I don’t think Baltimore puts up enough points to cover the spread. I’ll take Oakland to cover 11 points.

ROOKIES HIT THE GROUND RUNNING

After a season of Javorius Allen and Alex Collins, we won’t blame the majority of fans for not recognizing the leading rushers for Baltimore in its Week 11 win over Cincinnati.

While rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson shocked the league with 27 rushes in his first NFL start, perhaps even more surprising was who was second on the team in rushing that day: Gus Edwards. 

The undrafted rookie, getting his first full workload of his young career, responded with 17 carries for 115 yards and a touchdown. A physical north-south runner, Edwards gained 90 of his rushing yards after first contact and forced seven missed tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.

Edwards also out-snapped Collins 42-17, as his running style was the perfect complement to Jackson’s run-pass option threats. With the success against the Bengals last week, we expect to see Edwards get another full workload, which could spell trouble for an Oakland defense that allows the second-most rushing yards per game in the NFL.

WHO’S CATCHING PASSES IN OAKLAND?

Another week, another Oakland starter scratched off the roster.

The Raiders lost wide receiver Brandon LaFell for the season during last week’s win against Arizona, as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon.

LaFell’s absence wouldn’t be a big deal, except veteran receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant both sat out the Week 11 contest with injuries and are questionable to play in Week 12. It’s a bad week to have an issue with wide receiver depth, as Baltimore allows the second-fewest passing yards per game and is eighth in quarterback sacks.

If those two cannot play, the targets will likely be distributed among Seth Roberts and tight end Jared Cook, along with rookies Marcell Ateman and Saeed Blacknall, both of whom made their NFL debuts last week.

That could also mean a lot of running plays to take the pressure off quarterback Derek Carr and give the Raiders defense extra rest. The added running plays not only should keep Oakland in the game, but should also keep the score down, making the UNDER an interesting bet.