The Ravens come into Week 11 still smarting from a 22-10 loss to the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football, one that saw Miami surprisingly contain Lamar Jackson on the ground and force him into a largely ineffective performance through the air.
The defeat dropped Baltimore to 6-3, and ultimately, left them with just a half-game lead on the 5-3-1 Steelers in the AFC North by the time the slate wrapped up.
The Bears were off in Week 10 after dropping their fourth straight game in Week 9, a heartbreaking 29-27 overtime defeat to the Steelers. Justin Fields did demonstrate some of his most tangible progress yet in the loss, however, throwing for a career-high 291 yards and rushing for another 45.
The game also marked the return of David Montgomery from injured reserve, and the running back offered an encouraging performance that included 80 total yards. Nevertheless, Chicago’s defense continued to be an issue, with key absences from Khalil Mack (foot), Alec Ogletree (ankle), and Eddie Jackson (hamstring) playing a part.
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 11 a.m. ET on Friday, November 19.
Ravens vs Bears Prediction
The Ravens continue to rely heavily on their running game this season, a philosophy that’s survived a virtually unprecedented rash of backfield injuries before the season started. Baltimore continues to run at a top-10 rate, with its 44.8 percent rush play percentage ranking eighth in the league.
The matchup shapes up well in that regard, as the Bears are ranked 21st in DVOA against the run and have allowed explosive runs on 33 of the 237 running plays they’ve faced. That equates to an elevated 14% rate that ranks them 29th in the league.
Meanwhile, with the help of Jackson’s elite rushing skills, the Ravens check in seventh in explosive run rate with 37 such plays thus far. The ability to run a balanced attack will be key to avoid putting too much on Jackson’s shoulders.
The fourth-year signal-caller faces a Bears defense that’s been adequate against the pass with 226.1 passing yards per game, and that ranks in the top half of the league with a 64.6 percent completion rate allowed.
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Chicago has also been very good about applying consistent pressure, recording 25 sacks in nine games. Jackson has already thrown just one fewer interception (eight) than he did last season across 15 games and has also taken 28 sacks, so keeping the defense honest will be key to success.
However, while Chicago’s defense is certainly capable of causing some trouble for Jackson—particularly if Mack, Ogletree, and Jackson, all currently listed as questionable, are able to play—the Ravens’ veteran unit could well feast on Fields. Chicago’s offensive line has allowed an NFL-high 33 sacks, while Baltimore is averaging two sacks per contest.
Fields has also been a part of 16 potential turnovers, throwing eight interceptions and also committing eight fumbles, although only two of those have been lost.
The Bears, which run the ball an NFL-high 55.8 percent at home, could very well be stymied against a Ravens defense that’s been a brick wall against the rush all season. Baltimore is allowing just 85.2 rushing yards per road game and a tiny 3.16 adjusted line yards per carry overall.
If nose tackle Brandon Williams is able to overcome his shoulder injury and suit up, it will make the Bears’ quest to establish any type of balance and keep Fields upright and free of mistakes even more of an uphill battle.
There’s a bit much here for the Bears’ rookie-quarterback-led offense to overcome, which I believe will lead to enough stalled drives for a close Ravens win.
(Sunday, 11/21 Update: Marquise Brown has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a thigh injury, while Jackson is now a game-time call due to a non-COVID illness. If Jackson were to sit out and Tyler Huntley draw the start, I would revise my prediction to Bears 21, Ravens, 17).
Prediction: Ravens 24, Bears 17 (*if Lamar Jackson plays, see directly above for alternate prediction)
Ravens vs Bears Best Bets
Best Bet: Ravens -4.5 (-110) at Caesars (*if Jackson plays) / Alternate prediction: Bears +4.5 if Jackson is out
As outlined in the game prediction, I envision a close, defensive-minded contest where the Ravens prevail by a touchdown.
While Baltimore is just 1-3 against the spread on the road this season, they’re 10-9 ATS as an away favorite since Jackson’s arrival in 2018. The Ravens have also done well when playing with a rest disadvantage since John Harbaugh became head coach back in 2008. They’re 27-22-2 ATS in that split over that span.
Meanwhile, Chicago is 6-7 ATS as a home underdog since Matt Nagy’s arrival in that same season, and 4-8 ATS during that span when playing with a rest advantage. The Bears are also 7-9 versus the spread against AFC opponents during Nagy’s tenure.
With the Ravens arguably having an overall talent advantage, I like Baltimore to narrowly cover in our NFL pick of the day.
Best Bet: Under 44.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Both of these defenses have been inconsistent at times, but each has been better in the home/road splits that apply in Week 11. There’s also the potential for some sacks and turnovers stalling a few drives on either side here, as outlined earlier in the game prediction.
Additionally, three of the Bears’ four home games this season have finished under this total, and the fourth, a 33-22 loss to the 49ers, was headed in that direction until San Francisco tallied 18 fourth-quarter points. Meanwhile, three of the Ravens’ four road games have also finished under this projected total.