The Ravens obviously would like to get revenge here, especially being at home this time around, but the Patriots are always dangerous coming off of a loss, especially a shocking one at home as a double-digit favorite vs. Arizona. Baltimore is a small home favorite of -3 (+105) with the total set at 48½.
1. Why Baltimore will cover the spread: The Ravens will cover this spread if they get Ray Rice more involved in the offense this week. Rice is one of the premier all-around running backs in football, and yet he had just 22 touches in a 24-23 road loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last week, which was actually an improvement after he had just 13 touches in a 44-13 rout of Cincinnati opening week. Another key for Baltimore is not turning the ball over. The Ravens played mistake-free football while amassing 430 yards in their new hurry-up offense in the opener, but they then committed two turnovers last week in a one-point loss. Perhaps returning home will help in that regard, but the Ravens also have to guard against being too hyped up for what is an enormous game for them.
2. Why New England will cover the spread: You do not usually equate New England with defense, but the Patriots will cover this spread if their defense continues to perform as it has in the first two weeks. The Pats had a great draft this year and their two first round draft picks, defensive end Chandler Jones from Syracuse and linebacker Dont’a Hightower from Alabama, have made an immediate impact. New England ranks second in the NFL in total defense after two weeks, allowing a mere 2.6 yards per rush and 5.8 yards per pass attempt.
3. Total Talk: Despite what we just said about the New England defense, we like the ‘over’ a lot in this game. Sure, the Patriots are improved defensively, but nowhere near as much as they have looked as they have faced two extremely mediocre-at-best offenses in Arizona and Tennessee. They now must deal with an up-tempo offense for the first time this year, and if the Ravens can incorporate Rice into the offense more, their offense could resemble the vintage, well, Patriots! On the other side, Tom Brady almost always seethes following a loss and takes it out on opposing defenses the following week. Besides, the Baltimore defense seems to have lost a step, and Michaels Vick passed for 371 yards against it last week. We are picking the Ravens to win this game simply because this is a statement game for them, while the Patriots have such an easy schedule the rest of the way that another loss won’t hurt much.
4. Betting Trends for the game: We realize that we are flying in the face of danger, as Tom Brady is 24-12 ATS off of a loss including 20-6 ATS when not favored by -7 or more, 15-7 ATS as an underdog, and combining those two a perfect 5-0 ATS as an underdog coming off of a loss.
Baltimore 35 – New England 31