After locking up a playoff birth, the Baltimore Ravens will set their sites on the top seed in the AFC as they host the New York Jets to kick off Week 15 of the NFL season. Game time is at 8:20 EST on Thursday, December 12 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The game will be broadcast on both Fox and the NFL Network.
Early betting odds have the Ravens favored by 15 points at home with an over/under of 45.5 points. Click here to check out all of the NFL betting odds for Week 15.
After winning their ninth straight game last week, the Ravens know that they are officially playoff bound. Baltimore has been challenged the past couple of weeks by the 49ers and Bills, two other teams that will likely be in the postseason. But they’ve managed to find a way to keep their winning streak alive and improve their record to 11-2.
With a win on Thursday, the Ravens will officially wrap up the AFC North title for the second year in a row. However, Baltimore will also be interested in securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. To make that happen, the Ravens need to win two of their remaining games, assuming the Patriots win their three remaining games. With the Jets and Browns on their schedule the next two weeks, the Ravens appear to be in good shape. Baltimore just has to be sure not to take their foot off the gas against a couple of losing teams late in the year.
The Jets, believe it or not, have come on strong the second half of the season. Adam Gase’s team has won four of their last five games, getting them to a somewhat respectable 5-8 on the season. Of course, they needed a last-second field goal to beat the lowly Dolphins last week. New York’s other wins during that stretch came against the Giants, Redskins, and Raiders, with an embarrassing loss to the Bengals sandwiched in between.
Despite a positive stretch over the last five weeks, the Jets don’t have a win this season against a team that currently has a winning record. That doesn’t bode well for the team’s chances down the stretch with games against the Ravens, Steelers, and Bills. New York will have to win out to avoid a losing record, which is the best the Jets can hope for at this point in the season.
For what it’s worth, I don’t like this spread one bit. If it was just a couple of points lower, I’d have no trepidation whatsoever. But covering more than two touchdowns is no easy task in the NFL. Nevertheless, despite their recent wins, I still think the Jets belong in the bottom-tier of the NFL whereas the Ravens are arguably the team to beat in the NFL right now. I’ll put some trust in the Ravens to cover and eat the points.
Given Baltimore’s recent track record, this actually isn’t a bad bet. Before close wins against the 49ers and Bills, Baltimore had a string of five straight wins by at least 14 points. That stretch includes a 34-point win over the Texans and a 39-point win over the Rams. Hosting San Francisco and traveling to Buffalo were by no means easy games and it’s reasonable to think the Ravens can get back to blowing out weaker teams this week.
In fairness, the Jets actually had signs of life offensively in November, scoring 34 points in three straight games. However, those results all came against bad teams. The Jets then laid an egg against the previously winless Bengals. Despite moderate success last week, New York’s offensive line remains a huge weakness. More importantly, it’s a weakness the Baltimore defense can expose. The Ravens racked up six sacks against the Bills last week and have come on strong late in the season against far better offensive teams than the Jets.
On the other side of the ball, there’s not much evidence that the New York defense will be able to handle the Lamar Jackson show, especially with limited time to prepare. At times, the Jets have held up well against the run, even against quality rushing teams. However, there’s almost no way to adequately prepare for facing Jackson. Even when the Buffalo defense did a solid job of slowing down Baltimore’s running game last week, Jackson was able to answer with three touchdown passes, including two from inside the five-yard line. I’m not sure the Jets will have an answer for everything Jackson can do, even if they manage to slow down the Baltimore rushing attack.
The bottom line here is that the Ravens have held opponents to 17 points or less in seven of their last eight games. They are surely good enough to expose New York’s weak offensive line, meaning points will come at a premium for the Jets. If the Ravens are able to get anywhere close to their league-leading 33 points per game, they should score enough to cover 15 points. Again, I don’t love the spread, but the Ravens are good enough to trust in this situation.