Ravens vs. Lions Betting Odds, Picks, NFL Sunday Predictions: Can Lions Really Cover This Week 3 Spread?
Todd Olszewski/Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson
|Moneyline||-400 / +325|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
Despite being 0-2, the Detroit Lions have fought valiantly in both games. Head coach Dan Campbell’s team came roaring back in Week 1 to cover against San Francisco then led the Packers, 17-14, at the half in Green Bay.
Now the Lions host the Ravens at home in Week 3, in a game Detroit desperately needs to win to keep any hopes alive of competing in the NFC North.
Fresh off a big win over Kansas City, will Lamar Jackson and the Ravens steamroll the Lions? Or will Campbell’s unrelenting competitiveness earn savvy bettors a cover? Let’s take a closer look.
Ravens Hurt By Injuries & Turnovers
The Ravens have several injuries coming off their big win over the Chiefs.
OT Ronnie Staley (ankle) is out along with DE Derek Wolfe (hip/back). And eight Ravens are listed as questionable: WR Marquise Brown (ankle), ILB Chris Board (other), OLB Pernell McPhee (shoulder), S DeShon Elliott (concussion) and OLB Daelin Hayes (knee). Quarterback Lamar Jackson (illness), CB Tavon Young (knee) are both expected to play, as is CB Jimmy Smith (ankle), who will make his first 2021 appearance.
The Ravens also placed DT Brandon Williams, DE Justin Madubuike and OLBs Justin Houston and Jaylon Ferguson on the reserve/COVID-19 list Friday. Williams is a key part of their run defense and would be a huge loss this week.
The Ravens have played well, but have struggled defensively. They allowed 435 passing yards to Derek Carr, the highest passing total of Week 1, and predictably struggled against Patrick Mahomes. The Ravens have struggled to generate their usual pass rush, averaging only 1.5 sacks in each of the first two weeks. The injuries to Wolfe, McPhee, Hayes and Smith have also contributed to their unusual start.
On offense, the issue has been turnovers. Baltimore is currently minus-one in turnovers, with Jackson already tallying two lost fumbles and two interceptions.
The loss of RBs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards for the season has decimated the running game. Second-year undrafted free agent Ty’Son Williams and veteran acquisition Latavius Murray have filled in admirably, but neither play as dynamic as Dobbins or Edwards.
Wideout Marquise Brown has been the bright spot in the passing game, leading the team in receptions (12), receiving yards (182) and touchdowns (two). But tight end Mark Andrews has provided minimal production for a team in need of offensive playmakers — he’s just 12th in receiving yards at his position, behind players such as Cardinals’ Maxx Williams and Browns’ David Njoku.
Overall, Baltimore’s offense ranks just 19th in team pass DVOA, per Football Outsiders. The Ravens need to establish the running game to consistently generate points and limit turnovers.
An Exploitable Advantage For Lions
The Lions have seven players questionable, but most should see the field on Sunday.
The only player ruled out is LB Jaime Collins, who is officially on the trade block. Detroit will need a full defensive roster against Baltimore’s rushing attack, especially in the front seven. LBs Trey Flowers (shoulder/knee), Romeo Okwara (shoulder) and Julian Okwara (neck), as well as DEs Michael Brockers (shoulder) and Kevin Strong (brain/thigh) are essential to limiting the Ravens on the ground.
Wide receiver Kalif Raymond (thigh) and running back D’Andre Swift (groin) are key parts of an offense that has limited receiving options. Swift is Detroit’s most explosive option and is critical to my pick against the spread — the dynamic second-year rusher out of Georgia leads all NFL running backs not named Christian McCaffrey in targets (16) and is second in receiving yards (106) as well as receptions (12).
The most effective offensive weapon has been T.J. Hockenson. The 2019 first-round pick leads all tight ends in receptions (16) and is third in fantasy points per game (23.3). His production will be essential against a Baltimore defense that has allowed tight ends to explode in each of the first two weeks.
Detroit has assembled a strong offensive line that ranks ninth-best, per Football Outsiders, and have a solid ranking in adjusted line yards (4.46) and open-field yards (0.66). If the Ravens’ front seven is limited by the COVID quarantines, this is an exploitable advantage for the Lions.
The Lions fall into a favorable Week 3 betting trend — teams that are 0-2 and underdogs at home by a touchdown or more are 5-0 ATS since 2003, according to our Action Labs data:
The Ravens are the more talented team, but Campbell’s Lions squad has competed hard in both games so far. This is a possible letdown spot for Baltimore, with injuries and COVID concerns on its defensive line.
I project a feisty Lions team to keep this game close at home and will back them down to +7.5.
Pick: Lions +8