It’s been a long season for some NFL teams, but it feels like we’ve flown through the regular season to get to Week 17. No team has cemented themselves into a specific playoff seed or draft spot yet, so every game counts.
The Los Angeles Rams have clinched a spot in the playoffs and can win the division this week with a win over the Ravens and a Cardinals loss. The Rams have stayed relatively healthy but are down to their third running back, Sony Michel.
It feels like Baltimore could break the record for most players ruled out in a season. Having lost their last four games, the Ravens are hurting both literally and figuratively.
Josh Johnson got the call to start at quarterback against the Bengals last week after Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley were ruled out. It did not go well.
Baltimore currently trails the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North by a game. The Ravens face an uphill battle to win the division and need to win to help their own cause.
Let’s take a look at how steep that hill is against the Rams this Sunday.
All NFL gameday odds and lines are current as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, December 30.
Rams vs Ravens Prediction
While deploying Josh Johnson as a starting QB in 2021 is a problem, that may not be as massive of an issue as Baltimore’s secondary.
Last week, the Ravens’ secondary consisted of two corners and a safety from their practice squad, a sixth-round pick who has stumbled his way into starting due to injuries ahead of him on the depth chart, and a primary special teams player.
Joe Burrow threw for 525 yards against them, good for the fourth-highest single-game mark in NFL history.
What can the Ravens do at this point? Re-evaluate their medical staff? They’ve had terrible injury luck all year, and these injuries have mounted into what has been a brutal four week stretch of losing.
Spoiler alert: I think their losing streak gets extended to five.
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The Rams had some soul-searching to do following the loss of Robert Woods for the season after his knee injury. They look to be doing quite alright now with the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. and the emergence of Van Jefferson Jr. to complement Cooper Kupp’s dominance.
Matthew Stafford and crew have won four in a row and should still be interested in improving their spot in the playoffs, as they currently sit as the No. 3 seed. Additionally, Kupp can break the single-season receiving yards record, needing 231 yards over his final two games to top Calvin Johnson’s 2012 mark of 1,964 receiving yards.
The Rams have the advantage on both sides of the ball this game. I don’t think the current spread of -3.5 favors them enough.
Prediction: Rams 28, Ravens 20
Rams vs Ravens Best Bets
Best Bet: Rams -3.5 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1.5 Units
As of Tuesday, there’s still no confirmation on who will start as quarterback for the Ravens. Lamar Jackson has missed the past two weeks with an ankle injury. Perhaps no QB in the league relies more on their ankles than Jackson.
Tyler Huntley missed last week’s game due to COVID, so he’ll need to test his way back onto the field and recover well enough to be active against the Rams. Huntley has been impressive when given the chance this year — the Ravens need the safety he provides in the case Jackson misses time this weekend.
To be fair to the Ravens, their losing streak started with three losses by less than a field goal. One of those losses was a one-point defeat to Green Bay with Huntley at the helm.
What’s left of Baltimore’s defense will once again not have fun against one of the league’s premier offenses. The Rams are sixth in the league in scoring, and the Ravens have allowed the second-most points per game in the league over the past three weeks.
Look for the Rams to run circles around Baltimore’s defense. They may even use a lead to work Cam Akers back into the fold, who has a chance to make his season debut this weekend after tearing his Achilles early in the summer.
Bet this line to -5 in favor of the Rams and make this your NFL bet of the day.
Best Bet: Over 46.5 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1.25 Units
The Ravens managed to put up 21 points last week despite relying on a 35-year-old journeyman QB to run the offense.
Despite the tough matchup against the star-studded Rams defense, Baltimore has enough talent on offense to put points on the board. That is, if Jackson or Huntley plays.
Mark Andrews has looked uncoverable this season. He is the key to keeping this offense moving. Add in Marquise Brown and rookie Rashod Bateman outside, and you’ve got a very solid array of receiving options.
The Ravens have relied on their run game for years. This won’t be the game to feed Devonta Freeman and Latavius Murray, though. No team has played at a faster pace than Baltimore this year, which bodes well for the Over.
Forecasts call for a decent breeze in Baltimore on Sunday, but it won’t be enough to significantly impede either team on offense. The Rams shouldn’t have any problems scoring and Baltimore should be able to do enough to put up a respectable tally on the scoreboard themselves. Bet the Over up to 48.5 points.
Dane Galloway’s betting record: -10.24 Units