Rams vs. Ravens NFL Week 17 Preview and Best Bet

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Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams. David Berding/Getty Images/AFP

Baltimore hosts the Rams on Sunday. Here is betting advice for the game. Top sportsbooks have released their NFL odds for Sunday’s game between the Rams and Ravens. Los Angeles enters this game on a four-game win streak. 

While blowing out Jacksonville and beating Seattle may not be impressive, winning at Arizona and at Minnesota is worth noting. While the latter teams have had their share of troubles lately, so have the Ravens.

Baltimore enters this contest on a four-game losing streak. The Ravens lost close calls against Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Green Bay before being decimated in Cincinnati. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread for this game.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, January 2, 2022 – 1:00 PM EST at M&T Bank Stadium 

Baltimore's Pass Defense

Recent and even less recent history may make it hard to believe, but Baltimore's defense is one of the worst. The Ravens are at their worst lately, having allowed 31 points to Green Bay before being shredded by Joe Burrow whose historical performance amounted to 525 yards and four touchdowns. Thanks to Burrow, Cincinnati dropped 41 on Baltimore.

As Burrow's video game-like performance suggests, Baltimore is particularly weak defending the pass. This weakness has been conspicuous since the season opener when Derek Carr of all quarterbacks amassed 435 yards in Las Vegas' victory against the Ravens. Currently, they rank last place by nearly 10 yards in limiting opposing passing yards per game.

They continue to rank so poorly in this respect and by such a large margin because they are worse at defending the pass than they were at the beginning of the season. Injuries continue to decimate this team's secondary. Starting cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters suffered season-ending injuries.

Most recently, cornerback Anthony Averett had to be carted off the field in his team's loss to Cincinnati. It's not like he was helping much: Ja'Marr Chase caught his only target for 11 yards when covered by Averett who left in the first quarter.

But Averett was a body with experience whom Baltimore could field his lack of quality notwithstanding. Averett is listed as 'questionable' for this game with a rib injury. The injury situation is still worse for Baltimore: starting safety DeShon Elliott is also out for the season. In sum, Baltimore has an awful secondary that is further depleted by injury.

Rams Will Take Advantage

Given the state of its secondary, Baltimore would love to face a team that is disinclined or unable to pass. Teams like the Giants, like Washington, like Carolina, would be ideal opponents for the Ravens right now.

But the Rams are just the opposite of such teams because they love to pass and they do it well.
They own the 12th-highest pass-play percentage and rank sixth in passing yards per game. The not superbly high pass-play percentage does not indicate any hesitation to pass because this percentage was vastly higher.

Two things contribute to this drop in percentage. First, the Rams have spent a lot of time leading games. They always led in their last contest against Minnesota, they were only behind for a couple of minutes the week before against Seattle and so forth.

Secondly, the Rams have grown more insistent on running the ball in order to achieve some offensive balance. They are so well-stocked at running back that they do not miss the injured Darrell Henderson.

Sony Michel, who had been a 900-yard rusher in New England before coming to Los Angeles, has been playing well enough to overtake Henderson in volume especially as the latter reestablishes his footing.

Michel's effective efforts notwithstanding, L.A.'s best success on offense has come through the air with proven gunslinger Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. Kupp is arguably the NFL's top receiver right now. He leads everybody in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. Keep these stats in mind for your best bets.

With this duo and other weapons like perpetual deep threat Odell Beckham Jr., the Rams are more than well-equipped to navigate Baltimore's inept and ravaged secondary.

Can Baltimore Keep Pace?

The Ravens will need to score a lot of points to keep pace with the Rams. But they are crucially injured at the quarterback position. Their offense revolves around former MVP Lamar Jackson. But Jackson is struggling to establish his footing (pun intended).

After attempting four passes on December 12 against Cleveland, Jackson is dealing with an ankle injury that has caused him to miss his team's recent games and reportedly to hobble and limp around at practice.

Even if he does play, his ankle will limit him as a runner, which, in view of his gross 87 passer rating, appears to be the best part of his game. Keep his injury in mind for your sports betting. Jackson was on fire in the early part of the season with his deep passing.

But he has regressed in terms of passing yardage and various other passing statistics since that part of the season because teams have adjusted. With their coverage schemes under defensive coordinator Raheem Morris (although a lot of what he has L.A. do is just a variation of what it did last year), the Rams are already used to challenging opposing deep threats.

Of course, having two-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey healthy will help L.A. limit a Raven pass attack that lacks depth in its group of wide receivers as it relies heavily on Marquise Brown.

The Verdict 

Baltimore will struggle to keep up with the Rams as its starting quarterback will either be hobbled and unable to pass well or it will field a backup quarterback. Meanwhile, the Rams have the weapons to deal another tremendous blow to Baltimore's decimated secondary. 

Their high-scoring output will it easy for them to cover the small number posted by online sports betting sites. For the above reasons, invest in L.A. with your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Rams -3.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Rams -3.5 (-108)
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*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.