The Baltimore Ravens continue their playoff push this week when they host the Oakland Raiders. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Friday, November 23, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Fans in certain markets will be able to watch the game on CBS.
According to the Week 12 NFL odds, the Ravens are 11-point favorites. That line has come down slightly after Baltimore began the week favored by 11.5 points. The over/under is set at 42.5 points.
With Lamar Jackson getting the start at quarterback in place of the injured Joe Flacco, the Ravens earned a much-needed victory over the Bengals last week. That game snapped Baltimore’s three-game losing streak to get them to 5-5 on the season. With the Steelers surging to the top of the AFC North standings, the Ravens are long shots to overtake them in the division. However, Baltimore remains very much in the mix for a wild-card spot in the crowded AFC.
Fortunately for the Ravens, their schedule starts to ease up down the stretch after a brutal stretch over the last month or so. Baltimore gets four of their last six games against teams that currently have a losing record. That could help the Ravens build some momentum off last week’s win and get back on track. However, Flacco’s status remains up in the air, so, they’ll have to keep relying on Jackson for the time being.
The Raiders, surprisingly, are also coming off a win last week. With a last-second field goal, Oakland managed to beat the Cardinals 23-21, giving them just their second win of the season. Of course, it’s probably too late for Jon Gruden’s team to make any kind of playoff push, especially considering their late-season schedule. The Raiders still have two games left against the Chiefs, as well as matchups with the Steelers and Bengals. Barring something dramatic, it’s hard to picture the Raiders winning more than one or two games the rest of the way.
I’d be shocked to see the Raiders win this game on the road. But I’m not sure if Baltimore will be able to cover a double-digit spread. Jackson is likely to start again in place of Flacco, and we just don’t know enough about him heading into his second career start. The Raiders will also feel good coming off a win. I think Oakland will do enough to cover the spread.
Jackson didn’t appreciate all the criticism about his performance last week, especially since his team won. But it’s worth mentioning that he did most of his damage with his legs, carrying the ball 26 times. As a passer, he was just 13 for 19 for 150 yards with an interception. Without more out of the passing game, covering the spread becomes less likely. Also, the Ravens had 53 rushes to just 19 passes. That alone means the clock will run, each team will have fewer possessions, and it’ll be harder to win by a lopsided margin.
Even if we concede that Jackson was an effective quarterback between his running and passing, the Ravens only scored 24 points last week. Keep in mind that happened against a below-average Bengals defense. Obviously, Oakland’s defense isn’t anything special either, but they’re not that much worse than the Cincinnati defense. Perhaps more importantly, the Raiders will have film of Jackson running the offense. For a veteran coach like Gruden, having tape on Jackson should make the Raiders better prepared to face Jackson than Cincinnati was a week ago.
On the other side of the ball, the Baltimore defense has taken a small step back from earlier in the season when they were one of the best defensive teams in football. To be fair, they’ve faced quality competition over the last month. However, they’re still giving up 26 points per game over their last four games. That makes it unlikely that Baltimore will pitch a shutout or limit the Raiders to 10 points or less. If that’s the case, it’ll be tough to pull away and cover the spread.
Over the last month, good quarterbacks have been able to give the Ravens some problems. One could argue that Derek Carr fits into that category. On the season, Carr is completing 70% of his passes, which is impressive for a team that’s always playing from behind. He’s also gone five straight games without throwing an interception. Carr is also getting accustomed to not having much of a running game to support him, so he may be able to do enough to keep the Raiders within striking distance.
To be honest, I’m going against my gut with this pick. However, the two games the Raiders have won this season have both come against rookie quarterbacks. Jackson’s first career start went well, but it wasn’t spectacular. Even if Jackson can guide the Ravens to another win, it’ll take something special to cover 11 points. I’ll take my chances with Oakland being able to keep this game close enough to beat the spread.