Monday Night Football Colts vs. Ravens NFL Odds, Picks: Betting Preview, Predictions for Week 5
Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Taylor, Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews (left to right).
- The Baltimore Ravens will host the Indianapolis Colts for the Week 5 edition of Monday Night Football.
- Can Lamar Jackson and the Ravens extend their current streak to four wins or will Carson Wentz and the Colts be able to prevail?
- Our expert breaks down this matchup in his Colts-Ravens betting preview below, including his top play for the game.
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
The Ravens got off to a slow start when these two teams met in 2020, scoring only on defense in the first half of a game they trailed 10-7 at halftime before rallying for a 24-10 win.
Can the Ravens fend off another slow start, and can bettors trust them to cover a touchdown spread?
Colts O-Line Troubles Will Be On Display
A Colts offense that averaged just 18.7 points per game through the first three weeks of the season before busting out for 27 points in last week’s 27-17 win over Miami may be in for a reality check this week.
Indianapolis’ offensive line — once considered a strength — has been ravaged by injuries and poor play, and the unit ranks dead last in pass blocking efficiency (74.8, per PFF) — which will be problematic against a Ravens defense that generates pressure at the third-highest rate in the league (30.6%), according to Pro Football Reference Advanced Stats.
Colts tackles Eric Fisher and Julie’n Davenport rank 66th and 69 in PFF’s tackle grades, respectively, and both rank among the bottom 13 at their position in pressures allowed (and Fisher has done so despite missing a game).
We knew tackle would be an issue for the Colts with the retirement of stud left tackle Anthony Castonzo and Eric Fisher working to get back to full strength after an Achilles injury, but what we didn’t know was that the interior would devolve into a disaster as well.
Center Ryan Kelly has allowed an NFL-high 11 pressures at center and has seen his PFF grade drop from 13th to 25th this year. Left guard Quenton Nelson, a first-team All-Pro in each of his three pro seasons, went on IR after Week 3. Right guard Mark Glowinski has tied for the third-most pressures allowed among guards (17) and grades out in the bottom-12 percentile at his position.
Add it up, and Carson Wentz will be under siege against a ferocious Ravens front that features Calais Campbell, Justin Houston, Justin Madibuike and blossoming first-round rookie Odafe Oweh, among others.
On 74 pressured dropbacks this season, Wentz is averaging just 6.3 yards per pass attempt with zero touchdowns. His passer rating drops from 105.1 when kept clean to 73.5 under pressure.
At the very least, Colts head coach Frank Reich has coaxed better play out of Wentz under pressure this season than Wentz showed last year in Philadelphia, where he posted just 4.8 YPA with four touchdowns, five interceptions and a 48.6 rating under duress.
Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale loves to blitz, and the Colts don’t have the type of receivers that can consistently beat man coverage and dissuade him from sending extra pass rushers at Wentz.
Without T.Y. Hilton (IR – neck), a Colts wide receiver group led by Michael Pittman Jr., Zach Pascal, and Parris Campbell (yes, he actually does exist!) has posted just 543 receiving yards through four games, fifth-lowest in the NFL. This is not the type of game where the Ravens will miss cornerback Marcus Peters (IR – ACL).
On first and second down, the Colts rank 31st in passing success rate but 12th in rushing success rate (52%), according to Sharp Football Stats, so you know what Reich’s game plan will be: feed Jonathan Taylor early and often.
The Ravens can counter with a run defense that ranks eighth in early-down success rate allowed (44%) and 10th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA on all downs. The Ravens have stuffed 26% of runs for a loss for no gain, good for second in the NFL.
Ravens, Lamar Jackson Will Look To Pass
Lamar Jackson only has four touchdown passes to show for it, but he’s quietly having his best season as a passer, and it’s due to him increasing his aggressiveness in attacking downfield.
Jackson is averaging career highs in passing yards per game (269.3), yards per attempt (8.7), and yards per completion (14.4), the latter of which leads the league. After three years of hovering between 8.6 and 8.8 intended air yards per pass attempt, Jackson’s average pass has traveled 11.6 yards beyond the line of scrimmage this season.
This bodes well for Jackson in this matchup because the Colts have been a pass funnel, ranking fifth in run-defense DVOA but 26th against the pass. They’re also 13th in rushing success rate allowed on early downs (48%) but dead last in early-down passing success rate allowed (62%).
It also bodes well because this is a complete 180 from how he played against the Colts last season, when he was a hyper efficient 19-of-23 passing, but for only 170 yards. In that game, Jackson finished with an average depth of target of 4.0 yards as none of his passes traveled more than 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, with just five traveling 10 yards or more downfield.
The Colts will likely use linebacker Darius Leonard as a spy on Jackson, but Leonard hasn’t looked himself all season as he recovers from an ankle injury and started the week with a missed practice on Thursday.
Even if Leonard is back to full strength, though, the Colts will likely struggle behind him as they’ve allowed the sixth-most yards per attempts (8.4) and the seventh-most yards per completion (12.4).
A lot of the Colts’ struggles in pass defense has to do with failing to generate pressure, as defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus’s unit ranks 31st in pressure rate (18.3%). From a clean pocket, Jackson is averaging a 69.0% completion rate and 9.4 yards per attempt compared to a 42.5% completion rate and 7.3 yards per attempt when pressured.
Even though the Ravens have been playing veteran running back musical chairs, their running game still ranks third in yards per game (164.5) and seventh in DVOA. A lot of that is Jackson, who is averaging 69.8 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry, so the Colts will still have their hands full, especially if Leonard isn’t back to 100%.
I expect the Ravens to send the Colts back to reality after the Colts finally got their first win, but I make this line Ravens -7 with a total of 45.5, which is right in line with the market. If you’re like me and still want to invest in the Ravens, I recommend playing the Ravens on the first-half spread.
If they cover, walk away 1-0, but if they don’t, you can then invest in them live full-game at a better number than the closing line.
It makes more sense to aim for the first-half cover because the Colts are a pass funnel, so if the Ravens go up early, they’ll likely end up going with their usual run-heavy approach in the second half against what has been a strong run defense.
Going up early has been Jackson’s forte, particularly when he’s tasked with taking care of business as a favorite. According to our Action Labs data, Jackson has covered the first-half spread 78% of the time in his career, and done so by an average of over four points per game.
Jackson’s first-half success is no fluke as John Harbaugh’s teams have handled business as favorites in this spot dating back to the days of Joe Flacco. Overall, Harbaugh-coached teams have covered the first-half number as favorites at home two-thirds of the time in his career.
Harbaugh and the Ravens coaching staff should be able to not only get Jackson going early but also flummox Wentz from the onset, as Wentz has been the polar opposite of Jackson lately, failing to cover 10 of his last 11 first-half spreads dating back to last season.
Pick: Ravens First Half -4 | Play to -5