AFC Wild Card
Pick – Trends
By: Jason Green
**Note – All playoff picks will iNClude both Jasons pick as well as Bettorsworld’s Pick.
L.A. Chargers (12-4 SU 9-7 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (10-6 SU 8-8 ATS)
The Chargers had a great season and they had a chance to win the AFC West and get a first round playoff bye, but their loss to the Ravens in the 2nd to last Game kept that from happening. They won five of their last six Games of the season with their only blemish in that span the loss to Baltimore where their offense fell flat. Phillip Rivers looks to atone for a poor Game against the Ravens and he has to lead the Bolts in this AFC Wild Card Game.
The Ravens won six of their last seven Games of the season iNCluding their last three and they have the best defense in the league. That defense was great in their win over the Chargers on the road and now back at home they are a slight betting favorite. Not only did the defense step up in the 2nd half of the season, but rookie QB LAmar Jackson played well after taking over under center for Joe FlACCo. He did not put up big numbers with his arm, but ran the ball well and managed Games well.
At 5Dimes sportsbook the Ravens are a 2.5-point home favorite with a total of 41.5.
This season the Chargers are 9-7 ATS with an O/U record of 8-8 and the Ravens are 8-8 ATS with an O/U record of 7-9.
These teams met in the 2nd to last Game of the season in LA LA LAnd where the Ravens beat the Chargers 22-10.
The road team is 4-0 ATS in the last Four Games between these teams.
The Chargers ended the season on a high note with a 23-9 road win over the Denver Broncos. While they won pretty easily and outGAined the Broncos by almost 100 yards (370-276) and forced Four turnovers they also committed Four turnovers.
Rivers passed for 176 yards with a TD and two INT and Mike Williams and Keenan Allen combined for 129 receiving yards. Austin Ekeler led the Chargers with 58 rushing yards with 41 of those coming on one run and Melvin Gordon rushed for 42 yards.
The Chargers offense was held to 198 yards in the late season loss to the Ravens where Rivers passed for 181 yards with no TD and two INT and Gordon only rushed for 41 yards averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Rivers has two INT in each of his last three Games and he cannot let that happen in this Game. He and Gordon will be facing a killer Baltimore D that ranks 5th in the league against the pass and 4th against the run.
The Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns in their season finale 26-24. They outGAined the Browns 463 yards to 426 yards, forced three turnovers and only committed one, and rushed for a whopping 296 yards while only giving up 50 yards on the ground.
Jackson was 14/24 for 179 yards with no TD and no INT and was the 2nd leading rusher with 90 yards and two TD. Kenneth Dixon rushed for 117 yards and the leading rusher on the season in Gus Edwards chimed in for 76 rushing yards. In the win over the Bolts this season Jackson passed for 201 yards with a TD and no INT and Edwards rushed for 92 yards.
The Chargers have a solid and balanced defense that ranks 9th against the run and the run.
The Chargers have committed nine turnovers in their last three Games.
Chargers ATS Trends
6-2 ATS in their last 8 playoff Games
4-1 ATS in their last 5 playoff road Games
21-8-1 ATS in their last 30 road Games
Under record of 7-3 in their last 10 Games
Ravens ATS Trends
7-0 ATS in their last 7 playoff Games
1-5 ATS in their last 6 home Games
Under record of 5-0 in their last 5 home playoff Games
Jason’s Pick: The Chargers had major issues with turnovers in their last few Games and they had three of them in the loss to Baltimore late. The Ravens’ D will be great in this Game and pressure Rivers and stuff the run all Game. While the L.A. D will also play well in a close Game Jackson will be efficient and get it done leading Baltimore to a win and they will also cover only giving 2.5 points.
Bettorsworld Pick – NFL teams compete all year in hopes of making the playoffs. Those teams also hope to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Most teams, play better at home. But the fact that the Chargers ended up with the #5 seed may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Back to that in a minute……
It may seem like a bit of a strech to think the Chargers can roll into Baltimore against the “#1 defense in the NFL” and come out with a playoff win. Afterall, we just watched these two play a couple of weeks ago and the Chargers couldn’t make it past the 50 yard line. Shouldn’t we see more of the same this week? Not necessarily.
For starters, rarely do rematches in the NFL playout the way the first Game did. That’s especially true when the Games are so close together and even more so when it’s a playoff Game. Adjustments are made. Changes are made.
The Chargers were without a doubt the best road team in the NFL this year with a 7-1 road record, duplicated only by the Saints.
We choose to use yards per point to rank offenses and defenses. We feel it gives us a more complete picture. When we use those stats to rank NFL defenses, the Ravens rank 8th overall with a defensive ypp number of 16.2. The Chargers rank 10th with a number of 16.3. Pretty close eh?
But dig a little deeper and look at the Chargers road numbers and compare them to the Ravens home numbers. Surprise! The Chargers numbers are better on BOTH sides of the ball.
Chargers road ypp numbers 13.5 on offense and 17.9 on defense.
Ravens Home ypp numbers 13.7 on offense and 17 on defense
We’ll here at least a 100 times over the course of the broadcasts this weekend about the Ravens and their #1 defense in the NFL. But is that really so?
I’ve watched the NFL attentively since the 70’s. When I hear the term “great NFL defense” I think of the 85 Bears and the 86 Giants. Those were truly great D’s. This Ravens defense couldn’t hold a candle to those and many others.
As I watched Browns almost come all the way back last week, it became clear that this defense was just ok and certainly beatable. In fact, there were plenty of Ravens Games this year where that can be said.
This week should prove to be a defining moment for Philip Rivers. Will he go on to become a hall of famer with some impressive playoff wins to his credit? Or will he be known as the guy who couldn’t get it done when it counted most? He’s had a couple of impressive playoff Games but this is the first appearaNCe in 5 years. Time is clearly running out.
Consider this. The Chargers finished 12-4. The very same record as the #1 seed in the AFC, the Chiefs. Those were the top two records in the AFC. Yet the Chargers get the 5th seed and have to hit the road to take on a team that was 10-6 and lucky to even make it in!
We expect an upset in ths one and also expect the Patriots and Chiefs to be hoping that the Chargers aren’t their opponents next week. Chargers +3