2006 Season NFL Football Past Picks
October 09, 2006
This pick was released to clients on July 30, 2012 at 8:43PM ET.
Baltimore at Denver
Monday 10/09 08:30 PM Eastern
4 units on Baltimore +5.5 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64) RESULT: LOSS
Folks, I honestly don't understand this line. Denver favored by 5.5 points against the Ravens? I don't get it. I liked the Ravens at +4 so I certainly like them at +5.5. In a game that is expected to be very low scoring, each point in a spread becomes more meaningful. The Broncos are getting respect for their defense. It's ranked 4th in points allowed (10.3). But is it THAT good? They are ranked 9th in yards per play allowed and a VERY average 17th in yards per game allowed (322). That's a good defense but is it GREAT? I question it. I am more of a believer in Baltimore's defense. This team is ranked ahead of Denver in points allowed per game (8.3). That's 2 points per game difference. And, unlike Denver's average rankings in the other two categories, Baltimore is ranked 2nd in the league in defensive yards per game allowed and yards per play allowed! They are allowing 0.8 yards per play less and almost 100 yards per game less than Denver! I have no questions about this defense - they are mean and inspired. They are better, statistically, than even Chicago! Granted, Denver has played against some better offenses but last week Baltimore held San Diego to 13 points. The Chargers had scored 27 and 40 prior to that. The Ravens have the best defensive player (any position) in the league in Ed Reed and you can bet that Ray Lewis will have this entire defense fired up here. Baltimore is 4-0 for two reasons. Their defense, and Steve McNair. Many of you know that the past few seasons I was a huge detractor of Kyle Boller. He was the one weakness in this Ravens team. With a proven gritty winner like McNair in charge, Baltimore has almost no weaknesses. They now have an offense to go with their killer defense. While not racking up lots of yards, the Ravens are putting up enough points to get it done (21.5 per game). Again, McNair is a winner and finds ways to get it done. He was 81-59 as a starter for Tennessee and he's now 4-0 here in Baltimore. He gives this team confidence. "There was no doubt in my mind we would win this game when No. 9 went out there," Ravens cornerback Samari Rolle said after the victory over the Chargers. "He's been through everything you can be through as a quarterback. He's been MVP. He's been in the Super Bowl. He's just got it." Ray Lewis added, "We have a quarterback that can win games late. That's why we brought him here." How will this game play out? Well, here's how I think it will go: Denver doesn't want the game to be on Jake Plummer's shoulders. This guy is a good quarterback when he has a lead. When the Broncos are in a dogfight or are behind, he's very mistake prone and he's a loser. Denver's success last year was built upon a formula of running the ball very well, getting a lead, and having Jake and the running game protect it. When that didn't work vs. Pittsburgh in the playoffs, Jake fell apart and Denver lost. This season, it worked in New England but didn't work so well vs. St. Louis or Kansas City. Baltimore knows this. They will try to shut down the run and pressure Plummer. If they can do that, it could get REAL ugly for him. Can Baltimore shut down Denver's running game? One of the best last year, the Broncos' running game this year is still good. But Baltimore's run defense is better. They are allowing a league low 62 yards per game on the ground. In the end, I believe Baltimore has a top 3 defense this year - a better defense than Denver. I like Baltimore's quarterback who is a proven winner that doesn't crack under pressure. Denver's QB has had more failure than success in his career and has shown that he cracks under pressure. Baltimore will bring that pressure after having success against Denver's running game. This is expected to be a very low scoring game and we get a better team, with a better defense and better quarterback at +5.5. My computer matchups (http://www.freeunderdog.com/CurrentMatchUps-NFL.php) favor Baltimore here, indicating a 2 point Denver win. Not a single underdog won the game outright on Sunday. I think tonight that could change as I actually like Baltimore to win the game. But at the very least I like Baltimore plus the points and we'll take the +5.5 for four stars.