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Ravens at Patriots

Wild Card Playoff Game

1/10/10

If there's one team I wanted to be able to make a strong case for in the playoffs, it's the Ravens. a futures wager to win the Super Bowl at 50/1 odds is the motivation behind that. What got me excited about the Ravens to begin with, was breaking down the playoff teams back at the beginning of December based on their previous 6 games. When I did that, the team with the #1 defense was the Baltimore Ravens. Their offensive numbers weren't great but they had just scorched the Lions for 48 points so there was some hope that a fire was being lit at just the right time.

In fact if we take the last 6 or 7 meaningful games for both of these teams, the numbers are still favorable for the Ravens. In that span, the Ravens played the Colts, the Steelers twice and the Packers and end up with an offensive yards per point number of 13.7 and a defensive number of 18.9. The Pats, during that stretch, would appear to have had an easier schedule. Their numbers were 16 and 19. So, the Ravens, by way of their offensive numbers, actually come out a tad ahead using ypp numbers down the stretch.

We can also take the entire season into account, using these same numbers and find that these teams have identical ypp numbers. 14 offensively and 18 defensively. Very good for both. Throw in the fact that Tom Brady's favorite target Wes Welker was lost for the year last week, which now allows the Ravens defense to focus more on Randy Moss and you start to like your chances if you're a Ravens backer.

To be a successful sports bettor, you have to understand that you can't bet every game. No one has a gun to your head. This is a game that I personally have to pass, and here's why.

It's still the New England Patriots, led by Belichick and Brady. You have to respect that. It's not as if they somehow slipped into the playoffs. They won 10 games and could have won 11 or 12. They had the Colts beat in Indy and really should have won that game. Furthermore, this is a home playoff game. The Patriots are 11-1 in their history in home playoff games, and have won 11 straight playoff games at home. 8 of those wins were in the Belichick era. The Patriots were 8-0 at home this year outscoring their opponents 31-13. They were 5-3 against the spread at home this year and the 3 games they failed to cover were all as double digit favorites.

The Ravens are a good football team. They run the ball better than the Pats and they are very good at stopping the run defensively. However, they have had to travel cross country after last weeks game, and have had a short week of preparation for this one. I just don't trust the Ravens not to self destruct the way they did in the Steelers game and I'm not willing to buck the odds with the Patriots performances at home in the playoffs.

I'll be rooting for the Ravens as a result of my futures position. However for those looking for a side here, I have to recommend the team that has won all of their home games with the exception of one (the first game of the year) by more than 3, including a 27-21 win over these Ravens. Patriots -3 -115


 

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