Ravens vs. Chiefs Odds, Predictions, Picks: How To Bet This Sunday Night Football Spread In Week 2
Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes
- Ready to bet Sunday Night Football? Find Ravens vs. Chiefs odds below, including the spread and over/under.
- Our NFL betting expert also makes his Ravens vs. Chiefs predictions with an argument for backing Baltimore.
|Moneyline||-200 / +170|
|Time||8:20 p.m. ET|
Who in their right mind wants to bet the Baltimore Ravens against the Kansas City Chiefs after last week?
Probably only a handful of lunatics like myself.
Not only does Baltimore have to fly across country after an overtime loss on Monday night in Las Vegas, it has dealt with an inordinate number of key injuries over the past month.
Plus, both the offensive and defensive lines looked underwhelming in the season opener against the Raiders. And if that doesn’t warm you up for a play on Baltimore, just take a look at the Chiefs’ dominance in this head-to-head matchup over the past three seasons:
- 2018: 27-24 Chiefs in Kansas City
- 2019: 33-28 Chiefs in Kansas City
- 2020: 34-20 Chiefs in Baltimore
The 2018 matchup did go to overtime, but Baltimore scored two late touchdowns to make the final score look a bit more respectable in 2019. The most concerning result came last year in Baltimore, where the Chiefs out-gained Baltimore 517-228. Kansas City averaged 487 total yards of offense in those three meetings.
Mahomes Still Elite Despite Inexperienced O-Line
We know who the Chiefs are. They feature an elite offense full of weapons, led by the best quarterback on the planet in Patrick Mahomes. Pairing him with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce almost seems unfair.
This team can score in bunches and do it in the blink of an eye.
In the offseason, Kansas City overhauled its entire offensive line by bringing in guard Joe Thuney and trading for ex-Ravens left tackle Orlando Brown to man the blindside. The center and both spots on the right side of the offensive line are actually manned by rookies:
- Center Creed Humphrey (second round)
- Right guard Trey Smith (sixth round)
- Right tackle Lucas Niang (2020 third-round pick, opted out of last season)
The Chiefs’ offensive line struggled at times against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, but that’s to be expected with an entirely new unit featuring three guys who made their first career start. It will take some time to build continuity and should be a strength by season’s end if the rookies continue to improve.
Also, it’s not like Mahomes needs an elite offensive line to function at the highest level, especially when facing a defense that lacks an elite natural pass rush — like the Ravens.
Last week, the Chiefs came back to beat the Browns in their home opener — despite missing a few key pieces on defense in Frank Clark and All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu. The latter, who should play, will certainly provide a boost to a Steve Spagnuolo defense that likes to blitz and use a lot of three-safety looks.
This is still a very poor run defense with a particularly weak group of linebackers — they really miss the injured Willie Gay — and defensive linemen (outside of stud Chris Jones) that Baltimore should have success against. That’s assuming the Chiefs don’t jump out too far ahead because that’s when this defense, which lacks talent but is well-schooled, especially on the back end, thrives.
More on that in a bit.
Expect Diverse Playbook From Ravens
The Ravens simply fell too far behind in the first half last year (with no fans), which caused them to abandon their style of play, having to pass more and play catch up.
Unlike the Chiefs, who are a rocket ship when trailing, the Ravens thrive as a front-runner, when they can stay aggressive on defense and bleed the clock with time-consuming, rush-heavy drives.
The Ravens have fallen behind way too often against Kansas City because it’s just not a great matchup for their defense. Defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale blitzes as much as any defensive coordinator in the NFL and frequently leaves his corners on islands in man coverage.
Mahomes eats up blitzes in his sleep. (Derek Carr does as well, as he showed late in the Ravens’ Week 1 loss.)
We have seen some teams in the past (the Chargers, for example) slow down this Kansas City offense by playing more zone on the back end, while generating pressure without blitzing. Not only is that not Baltimore’s identity, but it just doesn’t have an elite natural pass rush.
So what do they do this week?
Well, getting Jimmy Smith back (questionable) would help tremendously in regards to covering Travis Kelce. I personally think the Ravens have to play more zone on the back end and mix up their blitzes/coverages. The problem is they won’t get much pressure, but they also won’t give up as many big plays.
Will they change their identity for one week?
Letting Mahomes operate in a clean pocket also isn’t ideal, so they’re almost stuck between a rock and hard place. The Ravens haven’t deviated from their scheme in the past in this matchup, but how many times can you do the same thing over and over again without success against the same team? That’s insanity.
I do think it’s important to remember that the Ravens led the Raiders 17-10 a few minutes into the fourth quarter before a key fumble. However, everyone will mostly remember Las Vegas scoring 23 points from that point on.
You have to give credit to Carr and that offense for getting red hot, but two key fumbles that led to 14 Vegas points really cost Baltimore the game.
The Ravens defense is still a top-five unit even without Marcus Peters, whose aggressiveness was an extreme liability in this matchup last year.
While Jackson did lose both fumbles, Baltimore’s offensive line should shoulder most of the blame. Jackson had zero time all night as Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby had a field day off the edge.
Per PFF, Baltimore tackles Alejandro Villanueva and Ronnie Stanley ranked 75th and 79th in pass blocking out of 79 tackles who played in Week 1 with grades of 13.4 and 27.7, respectively.
To put that into perspective, the pair had 2020 grades of 91 and 77.8 in that same category in 2020.
So, what happened?
Well, Villanueva did switch from left tackle to right tackle, while Stanley is recovering from an injury. Stanley will be fine; it’s just a matter of how long it takes him to get up to speed and fully healthy (also questionable). Villanueva is more concerning at a new position and turning 33 next week.
Kansas City doesn’t feature an elite defensive front, but someone has to deal with Jones and the blitzes Spagnuolo will inevitably bring.
Then again, it’s just one week. Just take a look at Brown, who the Ravens traded to the Chiefs this past offseason. He graded out very poorly in his first game with Kansas City.
I’m confident the offense will look much better after getting a week of practice with all of the new running backs. The mesh point was simply a mess last Monday and Baltimore couldn’t use Ty’Son Williams as much in the second half due to the liability in pass protection.
It also appeared the Ravens went with a pretty vanilla game plan. They did experiment with more under-the-center runs in camp but really didn’t call many designed Jackson runs (only two), nor did they use the pistol as much as I anticipated.
I expect a much more diverse playbook this week with many designed Jackson runs and a few nuances offensive coordinator Greg Roman saved for this matchup.
I mentioned previously that the Ravens dealt with more key injuries than any other team in the NFL leading up to the regular season, a few of which occurred in the week leading up to the season opener. That means we shouldn’t be too shocked to see some growing pains.
Speaking of injuries, not only does Baltimore have the most players in the league on injured reserve, the injury report for this week isn’t pretty.
Today's injury report and game status for Sunday vs. the Chiefs. pic.twitter.com/v3W0XWJBLl
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 17, 2021
That list includes their top two corners and receivers, in addition to Stanley, who seems likely sit out after not practicing all week. Not great, Bob.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ injury report looks clean as a whistle.
This lookahead line over the summer sat at around a pick’em in the preseason and then moved to Ravens +1 after some of their recent injuries.
Now, after last week’s results, it moved to +4 before dropping to 3.5 as of Saturday afternoon. And it’s not like the Chiefs exceeded expectations in a Week 1 comeback victory over the Browns in large part due to a punt gone wrong.
Despite some of the matchup disadvantages, I reluctantly grabbed Ravens +4 on line value alone, as I still make this under a field goal even after adjusting for some of the Ravens’ issues/injuries, and the fact that they come off a short week after playing on the West Coast.
To put this spread into perspective, Baltimore was favored by 3.5 or 4 at home agains the Chiefs last September — without fans. That’s a massive delta.
I’m trained to not overreact to one week. Losing on the road in primetime against a team that had fans in its new stadium for the first time doesn’t mean the season is over. Remember, that same Raiders squad won on the road last year in Kansas City and almost swept the Chiefs if not for a late touchdown in the final minute. Nobody wrote Mahomes & Co. off, and rightfully so.
For what it’s worth, Week 2 home dogs of six points or fewer coming off a loss have gone 33-21 against the spread (ATS), a 62.1% rate, since 2003, per Action Labs. That speaks to some of that market over-reaction I referred to after Week 1.
Andy Reid owns an 84-56-3 ATS (60%) on the road, covering by almost a field goal per game. That’s good enough for a gaudy 17.1% return on investment. He’s the most profitable road coach of 133 in our Action Labs database since 2003.
However, the Chiefs have certainly not been ATS darlings of late, as there appears to be a premium each week built into their spread. I mean, who doesn’t want to back Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid? They are just 2-10 ATS over their past 12 games, including 0-8 as a favorite of more than a field goal — despite going 8-0 straight-up in those games! Kansas City by a field goal?
Chiefs 9-0 in one possessions games since Week 8 last season. 0-8 ATS when favored by more than a field goal in those games. Something has to give eventually. Do they either lose a one possession game or cover in one? Or maybe they just do it again and win by a field goal
— Stuckey (@Stuckey2) September 17, 2021
This will also mark the first time the Ravens will get to play Mahomes at home in front of fans. Two of the past three meetings came in Kansas City before last season’s matchup in Baltimore during the pandemic.
It’s paramount the Ravens use that energy in the stadium to get out to an early lead by taking advantage of a weak K.C. run defense. That will give them a chance to control the clock throughout and keep Mahomes on the sidelines.
The Ravens do not want to play from behind since they don’t have the passing attack to mount a comeback and that game script would play right into Spagnuolo’s hands. Expect Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh to be extremely aggressive throughout on fourth down — even more than usual.
Lastly, if the Ravens do jump out to a lead, playing the Chiefs live is probably not a bad strategy just like every week if Mahomes gets behind.
Play: Ravens +4 (play down to +3.5)