Koerner: Why Chargers-Ravens Offers Betting Value and More Wild-Card Weekend Thoughts
Mitch Stringer, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens
Each week, I release an updated version of The Action Network’s NFL Power Rankings. These ratings mirror those used by Vegas oddsmakers and project NFL point spreads each week.
Below I’ve listed each matchup with the actual consensus spread (via The Action Network App) and compared them to our numbers and added a few thoughts on each matchup.
Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens
- Actual spread: Ravens -2.5
- The Action Network spread: Ravens -1.5
This is the game with the most value in my mind and I actually disagree slightly with my number. Let me explain.
The Chargers are the better team on paper, but the Ravens pose a bit of a mismatch for them. The Chargers defense is set up to slow down an efficient passing offense — like the Patriots or Chiefs — not a dynamic rushing attack, like Baltimore’s.
The Ravens are by far the most run-heavy team in the league with Lamar Jackson under center, making this a very tough test on the road for the Bolts.
With 70% of tickets on the Chargers and the number moving up to Ravens -3 it’s pretty clear sharps are all over Baltimore.
Despite 63% of the action on the over this line hasn’t moved off of 42 and with such a run-first offense involved, I’d lean towards the under.
The Ravens will keep the clock moving when they have the ball, but more importantly, Baltimore’s elite defense should give Philip Rivers and the Chargers fits like they did in a 22-10 win in Los Angeles in Week 16.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
- Actual spread: Bears -6.5
- The Action Network spread: Bears -5
This line has everything to do with Nick Foles’ health, as he is dealing with a rib injury that he sustained in the Eagles Week 17 win.
If Foles is 100% healthy, I make the Bears -5 to -5.5. But a rib injury offers the potential for an in-game setback which means that Eagles backers need to weigh that risk.
The current line of -6.5 seems a bit steep, especially considering all three Bears wide receivers are banged up and Pro Bowl free safety Eddie Jackson is still questionable. I would nibble at Eagles +6.5 before it potentially drops.
The 41-point total doesn’t have any sort of clear-cut value as there are too many question marks about who will actually suit up and play this game.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
- Actual spread: Texans -1
- The Action Network Spread: Texans -2.5
Our power ratings agreed with the opening number of Texans -2.5 but this number has been bet down to -1. The line movement indicates sharp bettors are on Indianapolis. However, I wouldn’t look too much into a 1.5-point move that doesn’t pass through a key number.
A lot of the pregame talk has been about Houston’s brutal pass blocking, but Deshaun Watson has dealt with this all season and the Colts don’t own a great pass rush so I think this angle is being overblown.
There does seem to be a little bit of value on the total. I was in line with the opener (47/47.5) but it has since been bet up to 48 and could continue to climb as 61% of the money is on the over.
I doubt the sharps let this number get over 49 so I would wait and see if it can get steamed to 49 before taking the under.
Seattle Seahawks at Dallas Cowboys
- Actual spread: Cowboys -2
- The Action Network spread: Cowboys -2
I had this game opening Dallas -2, which it did at some shops.
It isn’t surprising that this line has bounced back and forth a bit, as you don’t need a huge amount of money to swing the market when it doesn’t involve a key number.
Jason Garrett made a bold decision letting Dak Prescott and most of his starters play the entire Week 17 game against the Giants in what was a meaningless game.
Dallas certainly has momentum on its side as the Cowboys put together a thrilling comeback win on the road while the Seahawks were nearly upset by the Cardinals despite playing at full strength. I would lean slightly on Dallas here.
The total is about right at 43, but both team’s gameplans may set up well for the under. Both sides will try to establish the run early and attempt to prevent the other team’s offense from being on the field.
If you are looking to play the under, it is worth waiting. This total should climb as we get closer to game time. A prime-time playoff game on a Saturday night featuring a popular team like Dallas should get plenty of late action of the over which could bump this total up to 44 at some books.