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A sense of urgency has come upon the Baltimore Ravens (4-6, 3-1 home). Time is running out for the reigning Super Bowl champions. They trail the Cincinnati Bengals by two games and have zero room for error. They must win. So must their opponent, the New York Jets (5-5, 1-4 away). They will have a tough time catching the New England Patriots, but are right in the thick of the wildcard race.
The Jets are tasked with trying to win in Baltimore, one of the toughest venues in the NFL. New York has played tremendously well at home with wins against New England and New Orleans, but they have inexplicable road losses to teams like the Buffalo Bills. On the flip side, Baltimore proved two weeks ago when they controlled the Cincinnati Bengals in a 20-17 OT win, that they step way up at home.
The Ravens are 4 point favorite at 5 dimes, and the action favors Baltimore to the tune of 77% when viewing the betting trends at sportsbook.com. Las Vegas is expecting a low scoring game as the Total is set at 39. DT Haloti Ngata and WR Marlon Brown are questionable for the Ravens. Santonio Holmes is probable for the Jets.
Although the Ravens lost 23-20 (OT) to the Bears one week ago, it was an important game if only for one reason. RB Ray Rice finally broke out of his slump, gaining 131 YDs on 25 carries. He ripped off a 47 yard run in the first quarter that was followed by a short carry into the end zone for his first TD since October 6 against the Miami Dolphins. Rice was very important to the Ravens Super Bowl run a year ago, so Ravens fans and bettors alike have to be emboldened by his resurgence. However, Rice will run into the league's #1 running defense. The Jets are allowing only 73.2 YPG on the ground.
The Jets can run the ball a little bit too. RB Chris Ivory has emerged as a work horse for this team with 73 carries over the last four games. He gained 98 YDs for an average of 6.5 and a TD against the Bills and before that got 139 YDs, including a 52 yard run and a TD against the Saints. Bilal Powell has taken a backseat to Ivory, but is still capable and has 114 attempts for 441 YDs and a TD this year.
Jets QB Geno Smith was benched in favor of Matt Simms after a 3 INT debacle of a game against Buffalo, but is expected to start on Sunday. Thrust into the teeth of the dog from the start, Smith has been hit or miss. The rookie QB has twice as many INTs (16) as TDs (8) and will face off against one of the best defenses in the league. HC Rex Ryan needs him to grow up quickly and have a big game.
Ravens QB Joe Flacco is doing better than Smith, but certainly isn't having a banner year. One year removed from Super Bowl stardom, Flacco has a QB Rating of 75.3 and every TD (13) has been paired with an INT (13). The secondary the Jets bring to the table isn't much and ranks only 22nd in the league. It's up to Flacco to exploit that.
The Jets have alternated between wins and losses all year. They win one week and lose the next. That pattern has held true since game 1 of the season. If they stick with this pattern, this is the week they win one. The stats tell a different story. Using all of the numbers we like to use, including our model, it comes up as a Ravens win and cover.
We rarely do this, but we're going to back the Jets here. Not because of the pattern they have going but because we think Rex Ryan will make for a good showing in his old neighborhood. They Jets have proved they can play with good teams so we wouldn't be surprised to see this one decided by a late field goal with either team on top. Jets +4
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