2003 Season NFL Football Past Picks
January 03, 2004
Tennessee at Baltimore
Saturday 01/03 04:30 PM Eastern
4 units on Baltimore +1 (-110) (risk 4 to return 7.64) RESULT: LOSS
A running game and a defense and getting points at home in the playoffs. Ohhhh baby! Next to Dallas, Baltimore owns the best defense playing this weekend. The Ravens play well against Tennessee, having won five straight matchups and covering the spread 10 of the last 14 times these two have met. Big-time players make big-time plays in big games. Baltimore has the league’s offensive player of the year, running back Jamal Lewis, who is on a roll. They also have the league’s best defender and AP Defensive Player of the Year, Ray Lewis who will be so fired up on Saturday it will be downright scary. The Titans are strong against the run (allowing a league-low 81 yards per game on the ground) but if anyone can find a way to crack the code, it’s Jamal Lewis. He is big and quick and can beat you by pounding you up the middle or getting outside on a cut-back run. Because of Lewis’ feats and the way the Ravens started the year offensively, a lot of people think of them as one-dimensional. But consider this: since Anthony Wright took the reigns six weeks ago, Baltimore has scored 30 points per game and has gone 5-1 straight-up. Wright has contributed with 9 touchdowns during those games, demonstrating that Baltimore can beat you through the air, too. On Saturday, Wright will be facing one of the league’s worst pass defenses. In fact, only two teams gave up more yards through the air this year. Back to Baltimore’s defense: The Ravens finished third in the league. It’s hard to imagine Ray Lewis getting better but he is. He led his team this year (a linebacker!) in interceptions. On the other side of the ball, the reason to worry is McNair. This guy really can win games by himself. But I expect Baltimore’s defense to make that hard on him. And if he doesn’t win it by himself, Tennessee doesn’t have a chance. They are ranked seventh-worst in the league in rushing. Tell me again why this team is favored on the road? Baltimore plays better in the postseason. The Ravens are 5-1 ATS in their last six games in January while Tennessee is 0-4 in the same month. My Matchup Power Ratings tell us that Baltimore should be favored in this one. Why argue?