Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
MNF - Ravens at Rams
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Baltimore (-3.5, 47) at L.A. Rams, 8:15 pm ET, ESPN
A storied rivalry that began in 1996 with Vinny Testaverde outlasting Tony Banks’ Rams in OT to give the Ravens franchise its third-ever win in the team’s inaugural season is ready for its close-up and L.A. debut.
Ok, so maybe Monday night’s matchup doesn’t feature storied rivals, but it is an attractive matchup despite lacking an extensive history. The Rams were St. Louis’ team last time they crossed paths with John Harbaugh and the Ravens, falling 16-13 on a Justin Tucker field goal at the gun back in 2015. Todd Gurley scored the Rams’ lone touchdown, but there aren’t a lot of holdovers on either side from that most recent meeting, which featured the Rams blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead under Jeff Fisher’s watch. Neither went on to make the playoffs.
Four years later, the teams meet again with the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens (8-2 SU, 6-3-1 ATS) atop the NFL world and the Rams (6-4, 7-3) scrambling to make a playoff push after reaching the Super Bowl last season. In four years time, there’s a good chance we’ll remember this game for being Jackson’s Monday night debut.
Because the 49ers and Seahawks each won high-profile matchups against NFC contenders on Sunday to improve to a combined 19-3, L.A.’s already slim chances of winning its division dwindled further. That means the Rams will have to land one of the two wild card spots and need to remain in striking distance of the Vikings, who have taken up residence as the likeliest No. 6 seed with six games still left. They’ll face San Francisco and Seattle one more time and visit the Cowboys, so Sean McVay’s team is set to play a significant role in writing the rest of the story in the conference. Pulling off a win against the Ravens on Monday night would give them a better shot at a starring role as opposed to setting for playing spoiler. This will be their first Monday night appearance since last season’s epic 54-51 win over Kansas City.
Los Angeles is 2-1 under the lights in 2019, beating the Browns and Bears in Sunday night slugfests, the most recent of which came at home against Chicago on Nov. 17. They dropped a 30-29 Thursday night clash at Seattle that may ultimately cost it dearly. Greg Zuerlein unexpectedly missed a 44-yard field goal in that game to doom the Rams, who went on to lose to the Niners 20-7 the next week, digging themselves their current hole.
Baltimore’s only primetime appearance this season booked it a leading role the rest of the way. The Ravens destroyed the defending champion Patriots 37-20 on Nov. 3, producing nearly half the scoring New England has surrendered in its other 10 games (80 points) in four quarters of a Sunday night rout. The Ravens followed that up with a 49-13 blowout of the winless Bengals and a 41-7 annihilation of the AFC South-leading Texans, establishing themselves as the primary contender to the Patriots’ throne.
Jackson has become the MVP frontrunner this month, throwing for 608 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception while running for 205 more yards and three scores. He’ll be the AFC Player of the Month regardless of what happens here but will be looking to close out a second straight perfect month. The Ravens carry a six-game winning streak into Monday night (4-1-1 ATS), outscoring opponents 206-97. They last lost on Sept. 29, surrendering 40 points at home against the Browns after losing a 33-28 shootout in Kansas City.
Baltimore’s defense has gotten its act together and posted wins over Russell Wilson, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson, so Jared Goff probably hasn’t had the unit too concerned this past week. Goff is coming off completing a season-low 11 passes in a 17-7 win over the Bears but gets back receivers Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks to try and test the Baltimore secondary. For a free pick on a prop, click here .
The Rams leaned on Gurley with the passing game an afterthought against the Bears, and opportunities could open up with the Ravens expected to be without DT Michael Pierce, but McVay’s preference for breaking a defense down via the pass and the fact the Ravens rank in the bottom 25 percent in the league in sacks could yield opportunities for Goff to take shots.
It remains to be seen how the presence of Aaron Donald affects Jackson since this rare matchup is highlighted by the game’s top interior lineman looking to disrupt an elusive dual-threat QB who is at the top of his game. Will Donald shutting down the middle allow the Rams to better help contain Jackson as he tries to break outside? Will being able to hit one of his tight ends or electric rookie “Hollywood” Brown help Jackson settle in and carve up a Rams’ defense that has looked sturdy?
Marcus Peters, traded by L.A. to Baltimore after one too many gambles, has been an asset in aiding the Ravens’ defensive resurgence. He’d just love to pick off Goff. Will McVay look to take advantage of his aggressiveness and bait him? You count on him trying at least a few times. A beautiful night awaits at the Coliseum as far as the weather is concerned, so that won’t interfere with either game plan.
Oddsmakers sent out an opening total of 49 and the number has dropped to 46 ½ at most betting shops as of Monday morning. Baltimore enters this game with a 6-4 ‘over’ record while Los Angeles has seen the ‘under’ produce a 7-3 mark and that includes a run of five straight tickets to the low side.
Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts on Monday’s number and his lean.
“This is one of those games where your opinion on the side will be correlated to your total wager. If you’re leaning to the Ravens to capture the win and cover, then an ‘over’ lean would be obvious based on trends we’ve seen from them,“ David said. “In five road games, Baltimore is averaging 38.4 PPG this season and that’s led to a 4-1 ‘over’ mark. As road favorites, that number jumps to an eye-opening 44.6 PPG albeit the results came against the Dolphins, Bengals and Steelers.
“The 5-0 ‘under’ for the Rams can be attributed to solid defensive play and a very inconsistent offense, which has been alarming for Los Angeles this season. After getting taxed for 55 and 30 points against the Buccaneers and Seahawks respectively in Week 4 and 5, the defensive unit has allowed 12.8 PPG in their last five games and just 9.0 PPG in three wins. Los Angeles has only won one game this season where it allowed 20 or more points and that came in Week 1. It’s easy to forget that the Rams have Wade Phillips as their defensive coordinator but he’s been a major asset this season.”
Baltimore has watched the ‘under’ go 2-0 this season versus NFC West opponents and going back to last season, the ‘under’ is 5-1 in non-conference games for the Ravens. The club will finish out their NFC slate next week at home against San Francisco.
Los Angeles is also on a 5-1 ‘under’ run in non-conference matchups and that includes a 3-0 record this season. The Rams have only allowed 13.3 PPG against the AFC North, which has resulted in a 2-1 record. The loss was a 17-12 decision at Pittsburgh in Week 10.
Even though Baltimore is the hottest team in the league, David believes the Ravens will get tested in this spot.
“This will be the second primetime game of the season for Baltimore and playing on the road is much different than at home. The Rams defense has been great against the run and I would expect them to load up the box and make Lamar Jackson beat them, which won’t be easy against a very good secondary,” said David. “The primetime games have been on a solid ‘under’ run and I believe the winner in this contest will have trouble scoring over 20 points. Along with the game going ‘under’ I would also lean to the Team Total ‘under’ on Baltimore (24) as well.”
Projected season win total: 8.5 (Over -110, Under -110)
Odds to win AFC North (pre-Week 1/current): 4/1 to OTB (Clinched)
Odds to win AFC (pre-Week 1/current): 20/1 to 7/4
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 40/1 to 9/2
Los Angeles Rams
Projected season win total: 10.5 (Over +120, Under -140)
Odds to win NFC West (pre-Week 1/current): 2/3 to 40/1
Odds to win NFC (pre-Week 1/current): 7/1 to 25/1
Odds to win Super Bowl (pre-Week 1/current): 14/1 to 50/1
Caesars' Senior Oddsmaker Alan Berg provides insights from behind the counter.
"This one is pretty simple, really. The public loves Baltimore and sharps take any 3.5 that isn’t juiced." said Berg, whose poignant observations can be found on Twitter at @PercentBerg. Pros vs. Joes here.
The Ravens likely won’t have Pierce but come in relatively healthy. Offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Ben Powers are expected to play after practicing on Saturday.
Woods has looked good in practice upon his return but the team hadn’t committed to him playing as of Monday morning. Cooks is a go as he returns from concussion protocol. L.A. will be without tackle Rob Havenstein due to a knee injury and will also be without DB Darious Williams but are relatively healthy as well.
(Ravens 4-2 SU, 3-2-1 ATS last 10, OVER 3-3)
11/22/15 Ravens 16-13 vs. Rams (BAL -2.5, 42)
9/25/11 Ravens 37-7 at Rams (BAL -6, 42)
10/14/07 Ravens 22-3 vs. Rams (BAL -9, 36.5)
11/9/03 Rams 33-22 vs. Ravens (STL -6.5, 42)
9/12/99 Rams 27-10 vs. Ravens (PK’em, 39)
10/27/96 Ravens 37-31 OT vs. Rams (BAL -6, 43)
NEXT WEEK'S NUMBERS POSTED
The Westgate opens its advance lines for the following week on Tuesdays and Week 13 numbers featured the Rams laying 3.5 points at Arizona on Sunday and the Ravens favored by 4.5 points at home against the 49ers in a potential Super Bowl preview.
Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA