Thanks to Lamar Jackson’s astounding level of production as the starting QB in Mobtown, the upcoming Kansas City Chiefs vs Baltimore Ravens contest on Sunday afternoon is being hyped as a battle of 2 elite offenses in addition to 2 unbeaten teams.
It’s an understandable narrative. Joe Flacco had some fantastic years as a pocket passer in Baltimore, but the Ravens’ dynamic has changed with the development of Jackson, a dual-threat wunderkind who threatens to surpass names like Vick, Tebow, Kaepernick, Watson, and Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks with his ability to run and throw on the move.
Jackson is off to a blazing start, passing for 596 yards on 57 attempts with 7 TDs and 0 INTs, and adding 126 yards on the ground. Baltimore got a lay-up over Miami in Week 1, but the full arsenal of the Raven offense was on display last weekend as newly-acquired Mark Ingram rushed for 154 yards on 27 carries.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs maintain a dynamic and dangerous attack under head coach Andy Reid and superstar signal-caller Patrick Mahomes…who has some quick feet of his own despite preferring to drop way back and launch bombs whenever possible.
But is QB hype-mania causing handicappers to mistake the overall angle?
Baltimore at Kansas City is not a meeting of 2 finesse teams. The Ravens still have a mean, punishing, fast defense, and the speedy Chiefs must prevail as the less-physical squad in a clash of styles.
Don’t tell that to anyone from Las Vegas…where Kansas City is a more-than-substantial favorite for this weekend on NFL betting boards.
Who: Baltimore Ravens at Kansas City Chiefs
When: Sunday, September 22nd, 1 PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Lines: BAL (+7) at KC (-7) / O/U Total: (53)
Baltimore spent a 1st-round pick on WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown out of Oklahoma, and appear to have found a gem after years of flailing with draft picks on receivers. But conservative HC John Harbaugh wasn’t going to emulate the Cardinals, who gave former Baltimore wideout Anquan Bolden about 75 touches in his rookie debut against Detroit. Instead, Brown received only 14 snaps against the Dolphins. Didn’t matter – Hollywood still shined with 4 catches for 147 yards and 2 touchdowns before seeing a ton more action the following Sunday:
Rookie receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown continued to build off his standout Week 1 performance with a strong showing in the home opener, including a 41-yard catch to seal Sunday’s 23-17 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
Brown, who’s seemed supremely confident and prepared for the big stage since the Ravens took him with the 25th-overall pick, spoke about the big play like it was just par for the course. “Lamar threw a great pass. I couldn’t ask for a better ball,” Brown said. “All I had to do was hold my position and make a big play. I saw it in the air, I was like, ‘This is money right here.’ I couldn’t mess that one up.”
Brown’s ho-hum attitude toward the catch undersells just how significant, and difficult, it was.
Why the Sin City point total opened at (48) is beyond me, since Kansas City playing at home can be about as high-scoring an NFL scenario has you’re going to get. The current O/U total of (53) points may represent a logical “correction” made by the gambling public.
On the other hand, Harbaugh may have good reasons to go with a ball-control game plan, using Jackson’s feet to help convert 3rd downs and keep drives humming along. Kansas City’s run defense was highly suspect last season. The Chiefs have shown little to indicate that the problem has been solved despite a 2-0 record so far.
Baltimore wants to keep the pass rush at bay, limit turnovers, and limit Mahomes chances to work from good field position. The 2nd-year KC starter has picked up right where he left off last season, but target Tyreek Hill has gone down with a shoulder injury, pressing Demarcus Robinson into a larger role in the passing game.
It will be a cat-and-mouse game for 4 quarters. The Arrowhead crowd can help produce edge-rush with sheer decibel level, and the Chiefs will be able to communicate verbally on 3rd and 4th downs while the Ravens will not. That’s another good reason for the guests to be methodical.
But speaking of clear-cut advantages, Kansas City is banged-up at RB as well as at the WR position, and Baltimore has a battle-tested run defense while the hosts have an average-at-best run defense. That also leads me to believe the visitors will try to hog the pigskin and play 20-25 minutes of inspired defense against Mahomes.
With a rainy Sunday potentially on the way in Missouri, the Chiefs are a (-250) moneyline favorite to prevail at home. That price is way too short, pushed even shorter by offense-obsessed gamblers who forget that there’s more to the game than long bombs and fireworks.
Jackson is the type of QB who will constantly be underrated on the betting board because too many aging NFL handicappers see a quarterback’s running ability as a negative and would be higher on the Louisville product if he was taller, slower, and never moved from the pocket.
Don’t gamble like it’s still 1992. In any toss-up contest the underdog is the proper wager, and Baltimore-over-KC at (+225) is among the best prices in Las Vegas…not just for the NFL but in all of the sports betting odds posted for the weekend.
Is the point spread just as fine a wager? Absolutely…if it’s on Baltimore (+7) to cover.