Lamar Jackson and the Ravens took the league by storm last season in their first season without Super Bowl-winning QB Joe Flacco. Jackson set a single-season QB rushing record with 1206 yards, and the Ravens became the first team to average 200+ rushing yards and 200+ passing yards per game in a season. Baltimore ran off 12 straight victories after a 2-2 start to the year, a streak the Titans unceremoniously ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Ravens cashed +3300 odds for the best record in the league (14-2 regular season) and +170 odds for making the playoffs. Jackson also cashed a whopping +8000 odds to win the MVP while John Harbaugh banked +2800 odds as the Coach of the Year winner.
Baltimore finished with a 10-7 against-the-spread mark, which included a five-game ATS losing streak after massacring the Dolphins in Week 1 before reeling off a 9-1 ATS run before its playoff loss. Baltimore finished 5-1 in one-score games last season and they went a perfect 7-0 in games decided by three scores or more. The Ravens finished 9-8 toward over totals by averaging a league-high 31.9 points per game while allowing the third-fewest PPG (18.2). The Ravens were the only team to score 20+ points in every game last season.
Baltimore’s 2020 win total skyrocketed by two and a half games to 11 wins this season after the Ravens cleared their 2019 win total by the widest margin in the league — by five and a half wins. The Ravens topped their 2020 win total with their ninth victory of the season over the Rams on Monday Night Football in Week 12. Baltimore has absurd -775 odds to reach the postseason for the third straight year and for the ninth time in Harbaugh’s 13 seasons. Entering the season, I have the Ravens power rated as the best team in the NFL (+650 to win Super Bowl LV), in the AFC (+325 to win the conference), and in the AFC North (-225).
|Week||Opponent (spread if available)||Time|
|1||Cleveland Browns (-7.5)||1|
|2||@Houston Texans (-5.5)||4:25|
|3||Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5)||8:15 (Mon)|
|6||@Phildelphia Eagles (-2.5)||1|
|7||Pittsburgh Steelers (-6)||1|
|9||@Indianapolis Colts (-2.5)||1|
|10||@New England Patriots (-3)||8:20 (Sun)|
|12||@Pittsburgh Steelers (-2.5)||8:20 p.m. (Thurs)|
|13||Dallas Cowboys||8:20 (Thurs)|
|14||@Cleveland Browns||8:15 (Mon)|
|16||New York Giants (-10.5)||1|
Key Off-season Moves
Calais Campbell (DE)
Derek Wolfe (DE)
Patrick Queen (LB)
J.K. Dobbins (RB)
Justin Madubuike (DT)
Devin Duvernay (WR)
D.J. Fluker (OG)
Marshal Yanda (OG, retired)
Hayden Hurst (TE, Atl)
Michael Pierce (DT, Min)
Seth Roberts (WR, Car)
Chris Wormley (DT, Pit)
Domata Peko (DT, FA)
Brandon Carr (CB, FA)
Tony Jefferson (S, FA)
2020 Season Odds
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
|Season Win Total (O/U)||11 (-115/-106)|
Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total
The Ravens already had one of the best rosters in the league heading into this off-season, and they solidified their defense and their depth during free agency and the draft. They added three starters to an already strong defense by trading for DE Calais Campbell, by signing DE Derek Wolfe, and by drafting LB Patrick Queen. The Ravens will also add healthy CB Tavon Young to one of the league’s best secondaries this season after he missed 2019 with a neck injury. Baltimore did lose a few key pieces in OG Marshal Yanda (retirement) and DT Michael Pierce but, overall, the Ravens have the best and deepest roster in the league heading into 2020.
The Ravens will be in better shape than most teams this season since depth is going to be more important than ever before because of the current world health crisis. The Ravens will also have plenty of continuity between their coaching staff and roster as most of their key coaches and players back from last season. Baltimore was fortunate to keep one of the best coaching staffs together as no teams tried to pry OC Greg Roman away to be a head coach in the league.
HC John Harbaugh and his staff have been the best in the league at getting their teams ready to play early in the season, which could take on added importance this season. The Ravens have famously been Week 1 locks with four straight against-the-spread covers and four straight outright victories by a combined score of 139-20. Other teams around the league could be slow out of the gates with everything going on, but I trust Harbaugh to have his teams ready early in the year. The Ravens are one team I’ll be looking to bet on early.
The Ravens will have their work cut out for them to get to 12 wins this season, but they at least have the fourth-easiest schedule based on 2020 win totals (per Sharp Football). The Ravens benefit from having five games against four squads that are lined to win six and a half games or fewer (Jax, Cin x2, NYG, Was). The Ravens will be impossible to catch if they’re holding a lead for the division and/or the conference after Week 14 as they close the season against the Jaguars, the Giants, and on the road against the Bengals.
Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total
The best reason to bet against the Ravens is that they have to play at an extremely high level once again this season to get to a lofty win total of 12. Baltimore did manage to improve this off-season from last season’s special 14-2 record, but the rest of the AFC North also improved with them. It’s going to be tough to go 5-1 in the division again, and the Ravens won’t be able to catch the league off guard with their unique rushing attack.
The Ravens took the league by storm by running for more than 200 yards in a game nine times last season on their way to setting an NFL team rushing record with 3296 yards. Obviously, the Ravens are unlikely to duplicate their rushing performance from last season, and Lamar Jackson has already indicated they’re going to open up their passing attack more this season. The Ravens also lost an underrated piece of their rushing attack from last season when one of the league’s premier guards, Marshal Yanda, retired this off-season.
The Ravens offense did get a bit exposed in the playoffs for the second straight year, this time by the Titans in the Divisional Round. The Titans jumped out to an early lead in their playoff game and the Ravens panicked a bit and abandoned the run too much and too early. The Ravens also lost the turnover battle 3-0 against the Titans in the playoffs after owning a +10 turnover differential during the regular season. It’s much easier said than done for teams to jump out to an early lead to take the Ravens out of their comfort zone, but opponents will be looking to attack Baltimore early in games this season.
The Ravens will have a great chance to reach double-digit wins, but their schedule is just tough enough to make it difficult for them to get to 12 wins. Baltimore will face the Chiefs and the Patriots as their two extra AFC contests. They also have a pretty difficult slate of games in Weeks 6-14 (@Phi, Pit, bye, @Ind, @NE, Ten, @Pit, Dal, @Cle), which will determine if they get to 12+ wins.
Notable Player Props
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
Lamar Jackson: passing yards (3250.5), passing TDs (26.5), rushing yards (975.5), most rushing yards (+2000), MVP (+700)
Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (3495), passing TDs (28), rushing yards (895)
Best-Case Scenario: Lamar repeats as the league MVP by throwing for 3000+ yards and running for 1000+ yards once again after becoming the first player to accomplish the feat in 2019.
Worst-Case-Scenario: NFL defenses adjust to Lamar’s unique running and passing ability, which keeps him from matching his absurd numbers from his 2019 MVP campaign.
Mark Ingram: rushing yards (750.5), most rushing yards (+3300)
Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (880)
Best-Case Scenario: Ingram holds off rookie J.K. Dobbins and the rest of this backfield, and he finishes as a top-15 fantasy RB for the sixth time in seven seasons.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill each have significant roles playing next to Ingram, who sees his volume reduced in his first full season in his 30s.
Mark Andrews: receiving yards (900.5), most receiving yards (+6000)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (860)
Best-Case Scenario: Hayden Hurst’s departure opens up even more snaps and routes for Andrews, and he explodes in his third season with Lamar Jackson throwing the ball a little more.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Andrews, who has Type 1 diabetes, proceeds with caution this season because of the current health crisis engulfing the world right now.
Marquise Brown: receiving yards (800.5), most receiving yards (+8000)
Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (940)
Best-Case Scenario: A fully healthy Brown explodes in his second season with Lamar Jackson throwing it more after Hollywood averaged just 23.0 routes run per game last season.
Worst-Case-Scenario: Brown continues to deal with foot and ankle issues, and he fails to see a sharp increase in targets after averaging 5.1 targets per game last season.
Best Bets and Leans
Be sure to check out all of our staff Best Bets for NFL Futures.
I have the Ravens power rated as my top team heading into the season because of their excellent depth and because of some key additions to improve their already strong defense. With that said, they’re going to be hard-pressed to catch the league off guard again like Lamar Jackson and this offense did last season. Every team in the AFC North improved significantly from last season, and the Ravens have extra AFC games against the Chiefs and the Patriots in 2020. Baltimore will be a hunted team this season and their path to the top of the conference will be much more difficult. I’m not actively looking to bet against the best overall team in the league, but I’m leaning toward the Ravens to finish under 11.5 wins this season.
Lamar had a truly special 2019, becoming the first player to throw for more than 3000 yards and to run for more than 1000 yards in the same season. Jackson had a one-of-a-kind season that will be difficult to duplicate, but his current totals essentially dictate that he’ll have to have a one-of-a-kind season two years in a row. His rushing total is sitting just south of 1000 yards and his passing total is sitting comfortably north of 3000 yards. Jackson said in April that he expects to run less this year, and I’m also expecting opposing defenses to adjust as best they can to Lamar’s dynamic running ability. It’s going to take another special effort for him to clear 1000 rushing yards again, and I’m going to take Lamar at his word and bet on Jackson to finish under 975.5 rushing yards.
In a bit of a correlated bet, I’d also lean toward Marquise Brown to finish over 800.5 receiving yards. I’ve been actively drafting Hollywood in the sixth round this summer as I’m expecting him to take a big step forward now that he’s completely healthy from his Lisfranc injury. Brown and stud TE Mark Andrews stand to benefit the most if Lamar does run less and he throws more this season.
Best Bets: Lamar Jackson under 975.5 rushing yards (-110, DraftKings). Risk one unit to win .91 units…J.K. Dobbins to win Offensive Rookie of the Year (+2800, posted May 7)…Patrick Queen to win Defensive Rookie of the Year (+1400, posted May 7)
Leans: Ravens under 11.5 wins (-115, BetMGM)…Marquise Brown over 800.5 receiving yards (-110, DraftKings)