Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:56 AM

SNF - Patriots at Ravens

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NFL Week 9 Sunday Night Football Betting Preview

New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens (NBC, 8:20 p.m. ET)

SNF Betting Results

The lock on 'overs' in SNF games this year was finally cracked open last week, as the Packers and Chiefs brought the back-and-forth shootout that everyone would have expected from them at the beginning of the year, even if the home side had an understudy taking the place of their star. It was nice to see two NFL teams make the most of their scoring opportunities and cash in with TD's and not FG tries, as there have been too many teams throughout the league that have played too conservative in that spot and/or have kicking issues to boot.

That makes it two straight weeks with relatively easy winners on SNF for this piece, and as we've arrived at November this week I'm looking to make it three in a row.

This week we've got another great game for the SNF crew, as New England visits a Baltimore Ravens team that's always given them fits for the better part of a decade now. Obviously, Belichick and Brady are still there in New England, but Baltimore's going to look much different this time around for New England as QB Lamar Jackson is about as opposite as it gets in terms of their former QB Joe Flacco.

This should be a great test for a Patriots defense that's gotten heaps of praise in recent weeks for all that they've done this year – I think I heard that New England would still be something like 6-2 SU if the offense hadn't scored a single point all year – but context always matters, and is generally forgotten a lot in this industry, and there isn't an offense New England has faced that brings the challenge that Baltimore will bring here. Remember the Ravens have also had two weeks to prepare for this game as well.

With a point spread that will undoubtedly have recreational/public bettors siding with the Patriots and the Ravens being a popular play from the 'sharps', let's get into where your money should be going on Sunday night.

Total Talk

This total opened up at 46 and thanks to about 65% support for the low side (according to VegasInsider.com), the number has dropped a half-point to stay relatively steady at 45.5 the rest of the way. Given how historically good the Patriots defense has looked in basically every game, you can understand why the 'under' was the first look for the majority, and with Belichick's history of containing and shutting down young QB's by throwing very different looks at them, the 'under' is a reasonable look for sure.

However, I'm not sure many of those young QB's that Patriots teams have owned in the Belichick era have had the dynamic skill set that Lamar Jackson has. His speed can break pretty much any contain their is, and his throwing accuracy (and reads) are getting better and better each week as he's asked to do more in that area. New England will throw some exotic looks at him for sure, and some will likely have some success, but it's not like Baltimore can't adjust to that themselves, and when you've got the best athlete on the field by a wide margin, adjustments just come easier.

At the same time, New England's defense – while worthy of the praise they've gotten from a statistical standpoint – the context in who they've played definitely matters. Yes, I know you can only play who's on the schedule in front of you, but in terms of yards gained per game by the offense, New England's faced the 32nd ranked offense (NYJ) twice, the 31st ranked offense (Miami), the 30th ranked offense (Washington), the 28th ranked offense (Pittsburgh), the 24th ranked offense (NYG), the 20th ranked offense (Cleveland) in a weather-affected game, and the 19th ranked offense (Buffalo). There are only 32 teams in the league so that's about as soft as it gets.

Furthermore, only one of those Patriots opponents comes into Week 9 this week averaging more than 20 points per game, and that's Pittsburgh at 21.4 points per contest. The Jets, Dolphins, and Redskins top out at 12.4 points per game (Washington), while the other three teams – Cleveland, NYG, and Buffalo are all between 19 and 19.8 points per game.

Sure, you could argue that facing New England's defense for at least one of their games contributes to those low numbers, but logic and basic reasoning would tell you that none of those teams are really any good this year (sorry Buffalo fans) at least from an offensive standpoint. That's not the case with Baltimore as they are the only other team – besides the Patriots – that averages over 30 points per game this season (30.6) and that number isn't aided by the plethora of defensive/special teams scores (5) New England has put up this year.

And even if you wanted to look at the other side of things and say, “well Baltimore's numbers are skewed because of the 59 points they put up on Miami” well, they are slightly for sure. But the Ravens have also scored at least 23 points in every game this year, and it's not like New England didn't put up 43 points on Miami themselves.

All that being said, New England has put up 27 or more in all but one of their games – as they should vs the level of opponent they've faced – and I do think they approach that number against Baltimore this week. Tom Brady and company can't be thrilled about all this chatter that the defense has carried the Pats to this 8-0 SU record pretty much by their lonesome, and it's not like you can't put up points on this Ravens defense who have already had games where they've allowed 33 and 40 points too.

At home, Baltimore will get theirs too, as this game could end up looking a lot like last week's SNF game where we get two winning teams trading scores and going blow for blow against one another. After all, maybe last week's 'over' result broke the dam on 'overs' happening in these prime time games and that's really the only way I can look here.

Side Spiel

Line Movements

Reading all of that talk about the total would suggest that I believe taking the points with Baltimore would be the side to look at, and in theory that's probably the case. New England is going to be the 'public' side here, and oddsmakers are probably going to need the Ravens ATS and/or SU to snap a lot of parlays and teaser cards from earlier in the day. But the Patriots make a habit of outperforming their numbers and I'm not willing to step in front of that with a number that's hovering around -3.

Now some will tell you that the 'look ahead line' on this game was New England -6.5 and given that New England covered in those nasty conditions last week and Baltimore didn't play, a 'move' like that is something to weigh heavily. But comparing look ahead lines to what's actually posted during the week, and what ends up being the closing number is one of the biggest shams going.

I say that because that line of thought operates under the assumption that look ahead lines are the “true” or “correct” line on a game, and movements come based on what happens in games the week prior. That's not true at all, and it's why you see so many big moves relative to those early look ahead lines. Plenty of bettors understand how egregious those look ahead lines can be – it's why oddsmakers also take smaller limits on them – and they bet them accordingly. I mean who wouldn't love taking the Ravens at +6.5 right?

That was a bad number and the betting action tells you that. Bettors willing to get out well ahead of the market take advantage of these off-market numbers and then adjust their position accordingly throughout the week when lines settle into place. That doesn't mean that Baltimore is the play now, it means at +6.5 they were well liked by bettors. Nothing more and nothing less. Breaking this game down at the current line of New England -3.5 is a totally different scenario to address outside of what happened in the early markets and it's that concept that ends up getting lost when bettors are discussing what look ahead lines were relative to where they end up going.

And this line of New England -3.5 is arguably right where this line should be in my view, and outside of moving the price tag on the juice for it, chances are it hovers in this range until game time, depending on how much Patriots love comes in from the masses. It's not a play I'd want to touch with either side, but if you are interested in doing something with the side, teasing up the Baltimore Ravens through the key numbers of 7 and even 10 (on a 7-pt teaser) is how I'd look to play it.

Final Thoughts

The side at the current number is not something I'm interested in at all outside of teaser options, but it is the total that does appear to be the better bet. This game has the stench of something like 27-24 written all over it for one of these two teams, although the winner probably needs to hit their average of 30+ points to assure themselves of a victory.

I do expect New England's defense to get “exposed” a bit in the sense that they've put up all these fantastic defensive numbers against the doldrums of the league offensively – Baltimore ranks 2nd in yards gained per game with 434.9.

At the same time, Brady and company on that side of the ball for New England make sure to quiet the noise about their unit being well behind their defense. Baltimore's defense can be had through the air – ranks 26th in passing yards allowed – and it will be that aerial attack that gives New England a chance.

Hopefully those floodgates on 'overs' cashing a few more times in SNF games the rest of the year did open up after last week's result, as we should get two straight SNF 'overs' cashing when all is said and done this week.

Best Bet: Over 45.5 points


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