On Monday night, the red-hot Baltimore Ravens will be traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Rams who are in desperate need of a victory to keep their playoffs hopes afloat. Appearing in the Super Bowl just nine months ago, the Rams have struggled through most of their 2019 schedule and will now need to string together victories in the final six weeks of the season to remain in playoff contention.
What seemed inconceivable a year ago, the Ravens offense is significantly better than the Rams who took the league by storm in 2018. On the shoulders of Lamar Jackson, the Ravens offense has exploded onto the scene and now are the top ranked unit in the league. Baltimore enters this game as 3.5-point road favorites with a total point projection of 47.5. The weather in California should bring perfect conditions for a football game, calling for a high of 64-degrees with clear skies and no precipitation.
ATS (Against the Spread)
Ravens - ML (money line) (-180)
After years of becoming accustomed to regular season letdown games, the feeling remains that the Ravens are primed to lay an egg in a big spot. We keep waiting for Lamar Jackson to stumble, the defense to revert to the unit we saw get blown out at home in Week 4 or for the coaching staff to come in unprepared for an opponent. We keep waiting, but the Ravens keep rolling, delivering statement win after statement win propelling themselves to becoming the best team in the league.
Monday night against the Rams has all the feels of a classic letdown game but look no further than the man behind center to finally let your guard down. Jackson won’t let the Ravens suffer a letdown and this has trickled down to the coaching staff who doesn’t coach scared in big spots. It has been a complete organizational shift from the Joe Flacco days and the Ravens are now set up perfectly to deliver in the spotlight.
From a football standpoint, Monday night against the Rams figures to be one of the toughest tests thus far in 2019 despite their struggles. They boast a nasty defensive line, led by arguably the best player in the league, Aaron Donald. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is as good as they come, and the Rams will not be unprepared ahead of facing Jackson. The question remains, does that matter?
Jackson has been thrown every look imaginable this season, and he continues to shred defenses on a weekly basis. The Ravens blocking scheme has been game plan proof thus far, allowing the offense to run as a well-oiled machine. The defense has limited the big plays and has prevented opposing offenses from keeping their team in the game. The Rams will look to establish Gurley early which was paramount in their week 11 victory over the Bears. If the Ravens can limit his success on the ground and force Goff to throw, the defense can pin their ears back and make him uncomfortable in the pocket which has been the key in beating the Rams this season.
Goff and the offense have been much better at home this season, and with their back against the wall will be expected to come out and give the Ravens all they can handle. This has the feel of a game decided by a late Justin Tucker field goal, giving me pause on the 3.5-point line and making the money line selection the best play in this game.
Prediction: Ravens 27 Rams 24
Over 47.5 (-107)
This matchup will showcase two of the top scoring offenses in the league with the Ravens ranking first, posting 34.1 points per game, while the Rams are putting up a respectable 24.3 points per game. Although I’m predicting a close, hard-fought game, points will inevitably be scored as there is only so much you can do to slow down Jackson and the Ravens offense. The Baltimore defense has been downright stingy in recent weeks but will face a now healthy Rams unit with a very solid cast of weapons.
The Rams will likely have to keep pace with the Ravens offense and will surely be looking to take some shots downfield to their receiving core featuring Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and the now healthy deep threat in Brandin Cooks. Until proven otherwise, we can only expect the Ravens offense to score at a high rate, making the over the safer selection in this one.
Winning Margin (4-Way): Ravens by 1-13 Points (+145)
The Ravens have been blowing out opponents as of late, but I don’t expect that trend to continue Monday night. The Rams are playing with their backs against the wall and looking at the playoff landscape in the NFC, this has the makings of a must win game. Including both defeats that they’ve suffered at home, Three of the Rams four losses on the year have come against teams with a top-ten scoring offense. With the Ravens boasting the top scoring offense in the league, they fit the mold of teams the Rams have struggled with. All but one of the Rams four losses this season have come by 13 points or less, making this bet a great value.
Marquise Brown total receptions: Over 3.5 (-134)
Marquise Brown total receiving yards: Over 45.5 (-112)
Brown has been mostly boom-or-bust statistically for the Ravens in his rookie year, although most of that has to do with scheme and volume. With a dominant running game and three tight ends who can all catch the ball, Brown has been the big play threat to keep defenses honest. The Rams boast a top-10 defense but have struggled more through the air. The addition of Jalen Ramsey makes their secondary a much more feared unit, but he may be tasked with slowing Mark Andrews when he’s running routes.
The Rams run defense is formidable and Jackson will need to do more through the air to keep the offense moving. I’m expecting Brown to bring that Hollywood mentality to Los Angeles and produce some eye-popping plays on primetime.
Week 11 Recap
Texans +5 (-110) – LOSS
Over 51.5 points (-110) – LOSS
Deshaun Watson total passing touchdowns: Over 1.5 (-164) – LOSS
Lamar Jacksoin total passing yards: Over 232.5 (-112) – LOSS
Mark Ingram total rushing yards: Over 52.5 (-112) – LOSS
Season record: 24-21 (53%)