Monday brings us the most highly-anticipated game of the NFL season. The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, fresh off an overtime victory in Los Angeles, will head to Baltimore to face Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.
We have each of the last two league MVPs, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, squaring off in what should be a phenomenal game between a couple of Super Bowl favorites. Both teams are currently listed at +500 to win Super Bowl 55, and it should be fascinating to see these teams square off for early AFC supremacy.
While there many be no home fans in attendance, the Ravens are still slight favorites at home this week. Baltimore checks in at -3.5 against Kansas City on Monday night in a game with a high over/under of 54 points. These two teams played a closely-contested game in Week 3 of last season in Kansas City, a game that was ultimately won by the Chiefs, 33-28.
Ravens’ Unstoppable Rushing Attack
The Baltimore Ravens were the only team in football to average more than 200 rushing yards per game last season. Between Mark Ingram and Lamar Jackson, no team was able to slow them down. Jackson became the first quarterback in history to top 1,000 rushing yards in a single season, while Ingram quietly topped 1,000 yards with 10 scores of his own.
Baltimore actually improved its rushing offense during the offseason after drafting JK Dobbins out of Ohio State. While Ingram is still the starter in name, Dobbins has gotten plenty of work early on. Ingram has 19 carries through two weeks, while Dobbins has already scored a pair of touchdowns.
The Ravens have picked up easy wins over the Browns and Texans to begin the year, and Jackson hasn’t had to do much of the heavy lifting. Through two games, Jackson has completed nearly 78 percent of his attempts for 479 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He has carried the ball a team-high 23 times for 99 yards, as well.
The Chiefs jumped out to a 23-6 halftime lead in this game last year, which meant Jackson had to take to the air more than the Ravens may have liked. Jackson finished the game with just eight rushing attempts, while he was held without a touchdown pass. It was easily one of Jackson’s least-productive games of the year, and we’ll see what the Chiefs have in store for him in the rematch.
If the Ravens win the time of possession battle, they’re going to be incredibly difficult to beat. Controlling the clock with the running game is their bread-and-butter, but that’s not something the Chiefs allowed them to do last year.
Chiefs’ Aerial Attack
Patrick Mahomes didn’t have a vintage Patrick Mahomes type of game last week against the Chargers, but he was still able to grind out a come-from-behind victory on the road. Through two games, the Texas Tech product has completed 64.6 of his throws for 513 yards with five touchdowns and no picks.
Mahomes was also the better of the two young QBs in this game last year, finishing the game with 374 passing yards and three TDs. The Kansas City Chiefs were playing without Tyreek Hill, but Mecole Hardman made a couple of huge plays in his place.
You can pretty easily make the argument that these are the two most well-rounded teams in football, and they have incredibly similar weaponry. Both teams have big-play receivers in Hill and Hollywood Brown, along with reliable pass-catching tight ends in Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. Baltimore prefers the ground-and-pound style of attack with the running game, though, while Kansas City has a flashier, big-play type of weapon in rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens Pick
We aren’t used to seeing the Chiefs listed as underdogs. So far, the general betting public seems to be taking advantage. While home teams have still been winning games at a much higher clip early this season, I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers started to even out as the year progresses.
The public isn’t buying the Ravens as home favorites over the champions. The Chiefs are attracting 63 percent of the bets to cover that 3.5-point spread. It may be the only time we see the Chiefs labeled as underdogs all year, so that makes sense.
However, sharp money is on Baltimore. An incredible 88 percent of the money is actually on the Ravens to take care of business and cover at home. You won’t often see that kind of massive discrepancy, and it leads me to believe that people are overvaluing the Chiefs’ underdog odds.
I’ll side with the sharps here and take the Ravens. This is a team with no apparent weaknesses, and I think Jackson will be ready to prove himself after being knocked around by the Chiefs almost exactly a year ago. Baltimore should be the hungrier team following their playoff failure, so I like taking Baltimore to cover at home.
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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