Thursday Night Football will give viewers a chance to watch the best team in football. But beyond that, there’s not much intrigue here, beyond betting of course, as the Jets travel to Baltimore. To no one's surprise the Ravens are heavy favorites, even in spite of Lamar Jackson nursing an injury.
Jackson is officially questionable with a quad injury that occurred during Sunday’s game with the Bills. Despite the designation, Lamar has made it clear that he will play in the game, but it’s worth wondering if he’ll be less effective on the ground. It’s also worth wondering how much of the playbook the Ravens will employ in a game that they should win without any trouble.
Ravens Offense vs. Jets Defense
Lamar isn’t the only banged up member of the Ravens offense. His favorite target, tight end Mark Andrews, returned to practice on Tuesday but will be questionable for the game with the quick turnaround. Potentially a bigger blow to the offense could be the absence of left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who is in concussion protocol and likely will not play.
With the Ravens banged up on offense, look for a lot of Mark Ingram Thursday night. The Ravens will be looking to get in and out of this game quickly without any further injuries. Lamar is likely to run less, so expect backup RB Gus Edwards to get a larger role in this game than he has to date. At 6-1, 238 Gus the Bus is ideal for wearing down a defense and milking away a clock.
However, the Ravens may have some issues running the ball against the Jets #2 ranked rush defense per DVOA. While the Jets are stout against the run, their schedule has featured just two top-ten rushing teams. The Bills are the best running team the Jets have faced and they gave up 128 yards on 25 carries. Against the Cowboys, Ezekiel Elliot ran for 105 yards on 28 carries and as a team, Dallas ran for 129 on 34 carries.
Against the pass, the Jets rank #22 in the league. Meanwhile, the Ravens rank #1 in the league on offense. As long as the Ravens can get their running game going, they should be able to mix up their game plan enough to put plenty of points on the board.
Jets Offense vs. Ravens Defense
The Ravens are going to be able to get their points in this contest. The biggest question is, can the Jets keep up on offense and keep this game within two touchdowns? With the #32 ranked offense in the league, I doubt it. To be fair though, the Jets blended stats included plenty of Luke Falk, who is likely the worst quarterback to throw a pass in 2019. So, the Jets season-long numbers are unreliable when assessing their current form.
While Sam Darnold has been light years ahead of Luke Falk, his overall numbers are less than impressive, to say the least. Darnold ranks 27th in QBR at 43 (out of 100) ahead of just Gardner Minshew, Andy Dalton, Kyle Allen and Mason Rudolph.
With that said though, Darnold has been much better over the past two months. His two worst games came against the Patriots and at Jacksonville in back-to-back weeks which saw him throw 7 interceptions. Those were his only two games with multiple interceptions and in his last five games, he’s thrown 9 touchdowns to just 2 picks.
However, Darnold has beaten up on some of the worst teams in the league to achieve those numbers. His past six games have been against the who’s who of bad pass defenses in the NFL. Here are the last six teams the Jets have faced: Dolphins, Giants, Redskins, Raiders, Bengals, Dolphins. In stark contrast to those opponents, the Ravens have the #3 pass defense in the league.
While you’d expect that Baltimore and their #4 ranked special teams unit would have the advantage here, the Jets actually rank higher at #2.
The Spread and Total
The spread on this game opened at Ravens -14.5. It was adjusted up slightly from the look-ahead line of -14 after the Ravens won and covered again at Buffalo, while the Jets failed to cover against the Dolphins. The spread had been bet up to Ravens -15 with 62% of the bets on Baltimore accounting for 77% of the money as of Wednesday evening.
However, that number has been steamed up all the way to Ravens -17 as of Thursday afternoon. With the move up to 17, more money has come in on the Jets. Currently, 52% of the bets are on the Ravens, and that accounts for 61% of the money.
Thursday night games typically have been lower-scoring affairs, as have prime time games in general this year. The total, however, opened at 44.5 and has been bet up to 45 points across the board, with one rogue 45.5 out there. Given that the Ravens should have a conservative approach, and the Jets low propensity for points, the under may be the most appealing bet of the night.
By Kyle Johansen