The Baltimore Ravens seem like the right NFL pick for Sunday’s matchup with the Buffalo Bills – although that Over looks tempting, too.
Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, October 2, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at M&T Bank Stadium
2022: The Year of the Underdog
That’s the NFL in a nutshell through three weeks of the regular season. Underdogs are 11-20-1 SU and 27-18-2 ATS, for a healthy and highly profitable 60% success rate. Great for the sportsbooks, and great for us, too.
That’s because our delightful new analytic models keep telling us to make the same kind of contrarian bets we always have here at the ranch. And we’ve got another one coming up this Sunday, with the Baltimore Ravens getting 3.5 points at home (!) versus the Buffalo Bills.
There’s also a 51.5-point total on the NFL odds board at Bookmaker (visit our Bookmaker Review) that the models want us to pound the Over with. Tempting, but with light rain and 10-mph crosswinds in the forecast, I think sticking with the spread makes sense.
The big question: Do we take Baltimore +3.5 (-109) at GTbets (visit our GTbets Review), or do we take them +3 (+105) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)? Stay tuned for the spine-tingling answer.
What Happened to the Bills Last Week?
The Miami Dolphins, that’s what. Our models were big on Miami as 4.5-point home dogs at the close, and sure enough, the Fins won 21-19. It was shaping up to be an instant AFC East classic in the first half, but everything went a little bonkers in the second, including the already-infamous Butt Punt that almost cost Miami the game in the dying minutes.
This was a simple case where the betting market was drooling all over Buffalo while overlooking the progress the Fins (and QB Tua Tagovailoa) have made since last year. Apparently, they’re overlooking the Ravens, too. Fair enough. Baltimore did miss the playoffs in 2021, going 8-9 SU and ATS to finish at the bottom of the AFC North.
The thing is, now that QB and former league MVP Lamar Jackson is healthy again, the Ravens are off to the same 2-1 SU and ATS start as Buffalo. And they’ve done it against much tougher competition, according to the Strength of Schedule numbers at Pro Football Reference:
- Ravens: Plus-0.1 SoS
- Bills: Minus-4.1 SoS
Despite that, the fine folks at PFR also have Buffalo valued 6.2 points higher on the Simple Rating System, thanks to the superior performance of the Bills' defense. That SRS edge works out to somewhere around Bills -3.5 when you factor in Baltimore’s home-field advantage. But SRS isn’t the most accurate predictor around, especially this early in the season.
Is Lamar Jackson MVP-Worthy Again?
Definitely. We won’t have the complete DYAR numbers from Football Outsiders until Tuesday, but they have their top three quarterbacks on the board as a sneak preview, and Jackson is No. 2 in passing DYAR, one spot ahead of Bills QB Josh Allen (Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes is No. 1).
These are both dual-threat quarterbacks, though, so you need to factor in rushing DYAR as well – and once again, Jackson has the advantage at No. 1 overall, followed by Allen and New Orleans utility back Taysom Hill.
A healthy quarterback means everything in the NFL. Keeping Jackson well protected might be difficult this Sunday, though.
LT Patrick Mekari, already filling in for injured starter Ronnie Stanley (ankle), suffered his own ankle sprain in last week’s 37-26 win over the New England Patriots (+2.5 at home). Mekari’s status for Week 4 remains to be seen as we go to press.
Should We “Buy” the Extra Half-Point?
So here’s the deal: Generally speaking, whenever you have the choice between +3 and +3.5, the online sportsbooks will usually charge you a premium in vigorish, since so many bettors are willing to pay the price and hopefully turn a push into a payday.
In this case, we’ve got a 14-cent difference in vigorish between +3 (+105) and +3.5 (-109). According to Wizard of Odds, moving off the magic number 3 should cost you 18.1 cents in a fair and just world. This means we’re actually getting a better deal this time with Baltimore +3.5. In theory.
Now, having been tasked once again to provide a final score prediction for this matchup, our models have it finishing somewhere around Buffalo 28, Baltimore 25 – even more reason to take that extra half-point. But not a lot of games end up with that exact score, so we’re going with 27-24, which happens about 10 times as often according to Scorigami.
We also need one more NFL pick. This is a great spot to sneak in a Lamar Jackson prop, since we’re already betting on Baltimore – maybe the books won’t notice how sharp you really are that way.
We’re waiting for the Week 4 NFL props to hit the board as we go to press, but we’re guessing you’ll get a good price on Jackson throwing a touchdown pass.
Bet accordingly once you see the NFL odds, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.
Score Prediction: Bills 27 - Ravens 24
NFL Prop Pick: Jackson to Throw TD Pass (-667) at BetOnline
NFL Pick: Ravens +3.5 (-109) at GTbets
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.