Wednesday, September 21, 2011

JZN NFL Predictions vs. Spread : Baltimore Ravens at St. Louis Rams (Week 3, 2011-2012)

The Baltimore Ravens are expected to be amp’ed up after getting upset by the Tennessee Titans. The St. Louis Rams must win this game or fall to 0-3 with two home losses. Which team will correct its flight?

The early spread on this game is Ravens (-4). Here are some of the key aspects of the game and what to watch out for when betting. All lines from Cooper's Pick and Injury Reports from covers.com as of September 21, 2011. Always keep yourself updated with injury lines because they’ll unexpectedly change throughout the week.
#1: Injuries
The Rams have three defensive backs on IR (CB Ronald Bartell, CB Jerome Murphy and S Tim Atchison). Sam Bradford will also be without two of his favorite receiving targets as Mark Clayton and Danny Amendola are both out. LB Ben Leber is questionable while RB Steven Jackson should play.

Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco could also be without some receivers. David Reed will be out for about a month after getting a shoulder injury in Week 2 while Lee Evans remains questionable. CB Jimmy Smith is doubtful and hasn’t played this season. CB Chuck Carr also remains questionable while OG Ben Grubbs is questionable. 

#2: Third-Down Offense
The Rams are currently converting on only 24% of their third-down attempts. That’s pretty disturbing when one considers they’ve played against two suspect defenses (Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants) to start the season.

#3 Steven Jackson
The Rams should have Steven Jackson back for this game. He’s basically missed the first two weeks (All of Week 2) with an injury. However, the Ravens have one of the NFL’s best run defenses with Haloti Ngata, Terrence Cody and Ray Lewis anchoring that front seven.

Bradford must take advantage of the Ravens’ vulnerable secondary for them to stand a chance.  

#4 Rams Offensive Line
The Rams have allowed 18QB hits this season, tied for most with four other teams. Definitely have to wonder how well they can contain Ngata and Terrell Suggs…

#5: Ray Rice vs. Rams’ Rush Defense
Now Michael Vick did have about 100 rushing yards against the Rams defense so this stat is skewed. However, they’re still dead-last in run defense as they’ve allowed over 177 yards per game.

For whatever reason, the Ravens abandoned Ray Rice even though he was effective against the Tennessee Titans. That probably won’t happen again.

Final Predictions:
Despite that victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’m not that big on the Ravens. That secondary appears quite vulnerable and Ray Lewis is getting up in age. I believe they’d have some serious concerns if they ever lost Ngata.  

Despite that, I can’t see any NFC West team beating them unless the Ravens play as uninspired as they did last week. I already got burned once when I took the Rams over the Philadelphia Eagles. I’d probably be overestimating them if I did it again. I don’t think the Rams have the passing game that can exploit the Ravens’ secondary, especially with their injuries at WR. I’ll go with Ravens.

Against the Spread: Baltimore Ravens (-4)
Straight: Ravens 24, Rams 17

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