Ravens-Chiefs Betting Preview: NFL’s Best Offense vs. Best Defense … What’s the Right Bet?
Dale Zanine, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Lamar Jackson
Betting odds: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: Chiefs -6.5
- Over/Under: 51.5
- Time: 1 p.m. ET
- TV channel: CBS
>> All odds as of Thursday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: Over the first day of betting, early cash on the Ravens moved the line from +7.5 to +6.
On Tuesday, the money began flowing in on the Chiefs, given their availability below the key number of seven. The line has since moved back up to -6.5 as a result, but we haven’t seen enough sharp action to bump it back to -7.
Weather report: It’s going to be cold at Arrowhead Stadium. Temperatures will be right around freezing, but the wind should be relatively calm and the sun will be out. — Mark Gallant
Trends to know: Kansas City has the highest scoring offense in the NFL (37.0 points per game), while Baltimore has the best defense (17.8 ppg).
In the past 10 seasons including the playoffs, when a team scoring 30 or more points per game faces an opponent allowing 20 or fewer points per game the offensive team has gone 61-88-6 (41%) against the spread, according to our Bet Labs data. — John Ewing
Did you know? In Ravens franchise history, they have never played a game with an over/under higher than 51. This week, the over/under opened at 53. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Ravens rush offense vs. Chiefs rush defense
The Ravens are on a roll. They have won three straight thanks to their elite defense and special teams and a new-found rushing attack with Lamar Jackson under center.
For the season, the Ravens have only averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which ranks 26th in the league, but this is a completely different offense now. Just take a look at the output over their past three games:
- 53 carries for 267 yards vs. Cincinnati
- 43 carries for 242 yards vs. Oakland
- 49 carries for 207 yards vs. Atlanta
That’s 145 rushes in just three games for 716 yards — an average of 4.9 yards per rush, which is what the Chiefs average on offense and they rank in the top five.
Pretty amazing when you consider Baltimore is doing it primarily with a rookie QB and an undrafted rookie RB.
Even more amazing, they are averaging 22 more plays per game than their opponent with Lamar under center. In other words, the Ravens are basically the Army of the NFL right now.
Now, I still don’t necessarily believe in the basic offense long term, but against bad rushing defenses, it can thrive. And for the fourth time in four games, the Ravens will face a poor rushing defense.
The Chiefs allow 5.1 yards per carry, which is tied with the Seahawks and Rams for the worst average in the NFL.
Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric paints the same picture, as it has Kansas City as the NFL’s worst ranked rush defense.
In the three games prior, the Ravens defeated the Bengals, Raiders and Falcons, who each rank 24th or worse in that same category. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Chiefs
The Ravens are expected to once again start Jackson, but Joe Flacco (hip) was able to practice in a limited fashion all week.
The offensive line hopes to have right tackle James Hurst (back) and left guard Alex Lewis (shoulder), while the defense is dealing with injuries to outside linebacker Tim Williams (ankle), safety Tony Jefferson (ankle), along with starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey (groin) and Tavon Young (groin).
The only Chiefs at risk of missing Sunday’s game are safety Eric Berry (heel) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (foot).
DFS edge: The Ravens have utilized No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith twice this season for shadow matchups vs. Julio Jones (2-18-0) and Michael Thomas (7-69-1).
It seems unlikely Tyreek Hill gets this treatment considering he’s spent 44% of his snaps in the slot or the backfield. Smith hasn’t played more than seven snaps in the slot during a game this season, so TyFreak should see plenty of Young, who’s an average nickel back.
Don’t fret about matchups with the Chiefs’ historically prolific offense. Hill costs $8,000 on DraftKings and boasts a GPP-friendly 78% Leverage Rating. — Ian Hartitz
Bets to Watch: Ravens +7 and Under 51.5
Before we dive in, I should note that while the consensus line is +6.5 at the time of writing, there are still some +7s out there, so shop around before you lock something in.
This matchup reminds me a lot of Baltimore’s game with Atlanta last week. An elite passing offense that the Ravens’ secondary can match up with, and a Jackson-led rushing attack that can expose a bad rushing defense.
Baltimore’s defense has been nothing but spectacular, joining the Bears as the only teams to rank in the top five in both rushing and passing defense DVOA.
How good has the Ravens defense been? Well, here are just a handful of the categories it leads the league in heading into Week 14:
- Points per game (17.8)
- Completion percentage (57.9%)
- Yards per play (4.9)
- Yards per game (281.7)
- Passing yards per attempt (5.6)
That’s huge against the Chiefs’ record-setting offense, which leads the league with 7.2 yards per play and 8.9 yards per pass attempt.
I also like the under 51.5, as the Ravens will play keep-away, which will do three things:
- Keep Mahomes off the field
- Take advantage of the horrid run defense of the Chiefs’ defensive front
- Neutralize the Chiefs primary strengths on a bad defense
Lastly, both of these teams have elite special team units — so no advantage there — although you still would trust Justin Tucker to make a big kick over any other kicker in the league (unless it’s an extra point to tie the game vs. the Saints). — Stuckey
Bet to watch: Ravens +7
Completely agree, Stuckey. After starting the season 7-0 against the spread, the Chiefs have gone just 1-3-1 since. The Chiefs are still a great team, but they have been overvalued by the betting market recently.
I think that continues this week, as seven points is too many against a good Ravens defense. With Jackson expected to start against a porous run defense, Baltimore should be able to run a lot of clock and limit the number of scoring opportunities for Patrick Mahomes & Co.
The Chiefs win, but the Ravens keep it close. — Travis Reed
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.