As part of our 2023 NFL Preseason Preview Series, we look at the current state of each team in an attempt to identify reasons for optimism and causes for concern and, most importantly, what can be exploited in the current betting marketplace.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: REASONS FOR OPTIMISM
When Lamar Jackson was on the field in 2022, Baltimore was 8-4, No. 1 in blended 4th quarter win probability, a top-five offense by EPA, and lost those four games by 8 combined points. Lamar is healthy (for now) and happy after signing a new contract. He has a new offensive coordinator (Monken) who will look to open up the passing game, which should keep Lamar healthier. Add in first-round pick Zay Flowers and free agent signings Nelson Agholor and Odell Beckham Jr., and the Ravens' offense could be formidable this year. Defensively, Baltimore finished fifth in EPA allowed after trading for Roquan Smith. Harbaugh’s Ravens finished over .500 in all but one of his 15 seasons and finished with at least 10 wins in 4 of the last five years. Based on their fourth-quarter win probabilities, they should have won 12.2 games in 2022.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: CAUSE FOR CONCERN
This new offensive system could be advantageous but will be going against what has made the Ravens great with Lamar. Jackson himself has missed 10 games in the last two years. Last season, the Ravens were 2-3 in the games he missed. Baltimore’s rush defense finished 8th but will be missing Calais Campbell up front. In 2022, the Ravens ranked dead last in 4Q EPA allowed. In 2023, they are playing in an extremely competitive division and have the hardest schedule of the four teams. The Ravens finished with a 2-5 record against teams over .500 last year, and they’ll play 12 games against teams with a win total over 8.5 this season. Ultimately, the biggest cause for concern for Baltimore is Lamar Jackson’s health. If he can stay healthy, this team has Super Bowl aspirations. If not, they could miss the playoffs.
BALTIMORE RAVENS: BETTING OPPORTUNITIES
With the introduction of a new up-tempo passing offense and new receiving weapons, I fully expect Baltimore’s offense to put up points this season. I’d look to play overs early on before the market accounts for the change. According to my power ratings, the Ravens only have 4 games where they are underdogs all year and will only be dogs once in their first 10 games. Actionable plays still available:
Week 1: BAL -9.5 vs HOU
Week 3: BAL -7 vs IND
Week 6: BAL -5.5 vs TEN
Week 8: BAL -5.5 vs ARI
Best Bet: BAL over 9.5 wins (play to 10) (-130)