Lamar Jackson and the Ravens will return to the national spotlight as they welcome in the New York Jets. With a win, the Ravens will secure their second consecutive AFC North championship and put themselves in prime position for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Jackson needs just 23 rushing yards to break the single season rushing record by a quarterback, surpassing Michael Vick who set the record back in 2006. The Jets are as banged up as a team can be in December and will be without defensive leaders Jamal Adams and Quinnen Williams while they try to slow down the Ravens historic offense. The forecast calls for mild weather although temperatures will be in the low 30’s at kickoff. The Ravens opened as 14.5-point favorites but has since moved up to as high as 17-points at some sportsbooks while the total point projection sits at 45.5. Below are some of the best bets of the week for this Thursday night showdown.
ATS (Against the spread)
Ravens -16.5 (-110)
This marks the second biggest point spread in favor of the Ravens in team history and it is completely warranted by the way the team has been playing over this nine-game winning streak. The Jets, decimated by injuries on both sides of all the ball, will be one of the easiest opponents the Ravens will have faced all season. The Ravens have proven that they don’t play down to their competition as was the case in the past and have asserted their will on lesser opponents in previous weeks. The last time they were featured on primetime, they delivered one of the biggest beatdowns in recent memory, embarrassing the Rams on their home field. There will be records at stake and the chance to all but lock up homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, so don’t expect this Baltimore team to let their foot off the gas as they continue to assert their will over lesser opponents.
The Jets have quietly gone about their business and have won four of their last five games, although the competition in those wins leaves much to be desired. The Jets defense has been surprisingly effective, particularly against the run, ranking second in the league in run defense efficiency. Problem is, they will be going up against a historically good rushing attack in Baltimore and will be down key starters across the defense. Speaking of defense, since the start of this nine-game winning streak, the Ravens defense has allowed a league low 14-points per game making them the most complete team in football.
The Ravens are simply playing a dominant brand of football and there is no reason to shy away from this spread despite the three-possession difference. Lamar Jackson is the kind of player who will flourish in primetime games in front of a national audience, and he will get that opportunity tonight as he looks to break records and put a bow on the MVP race.
Prediction: Ravens 37 Jets 10
First Half Spread -9.5 (-110)
The Ravens mantra all season has been jumping out to an early lead and allowing the defense to play from ahead. They have been masters at striking early and often, getting the opposing defense on their heels and keeping their foot on the gas. The first time you play against the Ravens offense can put you in a state of shock and with backups all over the injury depleted Jets defense, they may not know what hit them until it’s too late. The Ravens have a lot to play for with home field advantage on the line and in front of the home crowd, look for them to come out of the gate hot and ready to strike.
Jets total points: Under 14.5 (-112)
Despite winning the last four out of five games, the Jets will be heading into hostile territory on a short week against one of the best defenses in the NFL. New York has struggled offensively on the road this season, averaging just 15.5 points per game in six games. Meanwhile, the Ravens defense has been red hot, allowing only 12.0 points per game in their last five games. The Jets will be getting Leveon Bell back but still lack the juice to put up big numbers on the scoreboard. The Ravens use a high percentage of blitz to get the opposing quarterback off their game and a suffocating secondary to make them pay for mistakes. Finding the end zone more than once against this Baltimore defense will be a tough task in a hostile environment.
Marquise Brown total receiving yards – Over 43.5 (-102)
This has all the feels of a big game from “Hollywood” as a player who has performed well under the bright lights in primetime. The Jets secondary is one of the weakest units on the team and without the help over the top from Jamal Adams it may only take one pass to surpass this yardage total. They will be relying on backup cornerbacks to contain Brown’s playmaking ability, providing the perfect bounce back opportunity after low production the last couple of games. Brown and Jackson have great chemistry so look for them to hook up for a few fireworks in front of a national audience against a banged up secondary.
Sam Darnold interception -YES (-192)
It’s no secret that Darnold does not perform well when under pressure. Most notably when he threw four interceptions in the now famous “ghost” game. The Patriots brought the house all night and Darnold never got comfortable in the pocket. The Ravens blitz at a higher percentage than any team in the league and he will face the same struggles of trying to force throws under pressure. Despite not having an interception over the last two games, the Ravens secondary has been opportunistic on creating turnovers and will grab at least one pick against an overwhelmed opposing quarterback.
Week 14 Recap
Ravens -6 (-115) - WIN
Mark Ingram total rushing yards: Over 56.5 (-112) – LOSS
Mark Ingram total rushing attempts: Over 13.5 (-116) - WIN
Lamar Jackson total rushing yards – Over 68.5 (-108) - LOSS
Josh Allen Interception: Yes (-134) - LOSS
Season record: 26-24 (52%)