The New York Jets visit Baltimore tonight to open the 15th week of National Football League action against the AFC Top Seed Ravens.
Baltimore has risen to the top spot in the playoff seeding by virtue of winning nine straight games since a loss to the Cleveland Browns on the last Sunday in September. That winning streak began with a key AFC North Division win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, and includes impressive wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills on the road and victories over the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers at home.
The wins are a combination of solid defense and the play of the current Most Valuable Player leader Lamar Jackson. The second-year quarterback made incumbent starter Joe Flacco expendable. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh, who won a Super Bowl with Flacco leading his team in 2012, recognized the potential of his rookie last year and took the bold move of handing over his offense to Jackson this season.
His decision has paid huge dividends.
The Ravens scored 59 points in Jackson’s first start this year, and despite a five week run without a point spread win between the second and sixth weeks, which included both the Ravens losses this season, Harbaugh was steadfast in his support of Jackson.
His ongoing support has paid huge dividends.
Since that rocky start, Jackson has become the NFL quarterback that has captured the football world not unlike Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes did last season. While Mahomes strength is his ability to both throw in the pocket and on the run, Jackson’s explosiveness is gained both through the air and on the ground. Last week, Jackson became only the second quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards, joining Michael Vick in this elite category. The major difference between Jackson and Vick is the Baltimore quarterback is a more effective passer.
With that as a backdrop, you can understand why the books are avoiding the onslaught of Ravens money tonight while raising the price of Baltimore on the spread. The opening line of two touchdowns has grown to 17 points this afternoon, and still the line at the window is full of bettors looking to get their money down on Baltimore.
Here is the case against the Ravens.
They are coming into tonight’s game following wins over the Houston Texans, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. Which means this, they may be as confident in getting an easy win tonight as the public thinks is inevitable.
That doesn’t provide the motivational edge necessary to best assure Baltimore will roll to another huge win in this matchup against the up-and-down Jets.
The Jets have been good enough to beat the Dallas Cowboys, and bad enough to lose to the Miami Dolphins. They are also on the road tonight on a short work week, a difficult task at any time of the season but more challenging late in a season, particularly when playing a non-division foe. If they were playing someone out of their own AFC East Division, the Jets would have more of a book on their competition.
But, against the Ravens, a team the Jets have not met since 2016 and a squad they have never faced with Jackson behind center, makes taking this Jets team tonight worth what some do at the airport before boarding a flight, buy insurance.
The flight insurance in this case is the 17 point spread, which may be enough, but not worth taking the risk on boarding these over-matched Jets.