The following was written by VSiN.com’s Josh Appelbaum.
Can the Ravens win 12 games in 2020? Don’t be so sure, say sharp bettors.
Late last week, Ravens coach John Harbaugh explained that his team was like an “iceberg” last season, meaning they took the league by surprise. No one knew what was beneath the surface: a growing juggernaut poised to take the NFL by storm.
But now things are different. Entering 2020, Baltimore no longer is lurking under the water. The Ravens are out in the open for everyone to see. Harbaugh admitted that this season “we’re going to be everybody’s most important game.”
The Ravens were the best regular-season team in the NFL last season, going 14-2. Baltimore finished the regular season with 12 straight wins and a league-best plus-249 point differential. In his second year in the NFL, 23-year-old Lamar Jackson threw for 3,127 yards, 36 touchdowns, six interceptions and a 113.4 QB rating en route to a unanimous selection MVP award.
But Baltimore failed to live up to expectations in the postseason. Despite being a big favorite, the Ravens fell to the Titans 28-12 at home in the divisional round.
Will the early playoff exit be a blessing in disguise, serving as a teachable moment Baltimore can learn from and use as motivation? Oddsmakers have set the Ravens’ 2020 win total at 11.5. After winning 14 games last season, you would think the over is a no brainer. Even if Baltimore regresses from 14 to 12 wins, they still cash the over.
However, a closer look at the juice prices shows some smart money liability on the under.
FanDuel is hanging 11.5 under -125 (over +105). PointsBet is 11.5 under -115 (over -105). DraftKings is even more bullish on a “down” year for Baltimore, hanging a win total of 11 with even -110 juice on both sides. In other words, oddsmakers are projecting roughly an 11-5 season for Harbaugh’s crew.
Why? A variety of reasons, probably. First of all, everything broke Baltimore’s way last season, so you’d have to imagine some regression is in their future. Also, the division has improved with Big Ben Roethlisberger returning, Joe Burrow in Cincinnati and the Browns beefing up this offseason. Plus, you have to wonder if teams will catch up to Jackson and learn how to better contain him after he ran wild over the league in 2019.
What’s even more perplexing about the juiced-up under is that Baltimore has the easiest schedule in the NFL this season. Its 2020 opponents went a combined 112-144 last season (.438).
Here’s Baltimore’s full schedule in 2020.
Week 1: vs Browns
Week 2: at Texans
Week 3: vs Chiefs
Week 4: at Redskins
Week 5: vs Bengals
Week 6: at Eagles
Week 7: vs Steelers
Week 8: Bye
Week 9: at Colts
Week 10: at Patriots
Week 11: vs Titans
Week 12: at Steelers
Week 13: vs Cowboys
Week 14: at Browns
Week 15: vs Jags
Week 16: vs Giants
Week 17: at Browns
However, not all is bad for Baltimore. They still are a shoo-in to make the postseason. The Ravens are -715 favorites to make the playoffs at DraftKings and +490 dogs to miss the playoffs. Baltimore is a -225 favorite to win the AFC North, followed by the Steelers +350, Browns +600 and Bengals +2000.
The Ravens have the second-best odds to win the AFC at +325, trailing only the Chiefs at +300. Baltimore also has the 2nd-best Super Bowl odds at +650. Kansas City is the favorite at +600.
In terms of player props, Lamar Jackson’s over/under passing yards is 3,250.5 and his passing touchdown total is 26.5. Jackson threw for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. Jackson is +700 to win MVP, trailing only Patrick Mahomes at +400.
Baltimore’s top two picks in the draft are both top-five in Rookie of the Year odds. LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, selected in the first round, is +900 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, trailing only Chase Young +200 and Isaiah Simmons +500. Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins, selected in the second round, is +1600 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, tied with Justin Herbert. Only Tua Tagovailoa +1000, Jonathan Taylor +800, Clyde-Edwards Helaire +600 and Joe Burrow +250 have better odds.
John Harbaugh is +2200 to win Coach of the Year.