Monday, November 24, 2014

Baltimore Ravens Vs. New Orleans Saints

Market Watch

How far have the Saints fallen?  Just a week ago this line as -6 in the look-ahead line. Once the Saints lost at home to the Bengals as touchdown favorites, it reopened at -3.5.  Early money still saw that as value though as it was bet down to -3 not long after.  It's stayed there ever since, but we are now seeing juice added to the Ravens +3. Despite all this, 64% of the tickets are on the home team.

Bottom Line

This is one of the trickier games to handicap for Week 12. The Ravens are the better team overall, but Drew Brees has been a monster at home in prime-time games (40TD 3INT last 11 home prime-time games).

The Saints already have two ugly losses at home this year, and it could be more if Tampa didn't blow their big lead and Rodgers didn't pull a hamstring. That's simply uncharacteristic of the Saints.

There is another interesting factor buried in the matchup data. The Ravens D is on par with the Saints O if we look at the underlying numbers, but how does that change with Jimmy Smith out?  On the flip side the Saints have also lost Brandin Cooks. Is that a wash?

I think the main determining factor for this game will clearly be with the Saints D. They are dead last on 3rd/4th down, 24th in the red zone, and 30th overall as a unit.  Are they capable of a better performance under the bright lights?

And can the Ravens offense take advantage? For the most part they've been a top 10-15 side, but Flacco has a number of duds mixed in there as well. He's never been a QB that I've fully trusted, and I'd be hesitant about him in this game as well.

The final aspect to consider is that the Ravens are the best in the league on special teams going by DVOA. That's something that usually goes overlooked, but it can have a big impact in games that are expected to be close.

Ultimately, I have to take a pass here. The numbers favor Baltimore, but the spot favors New Orleans.

Read more: Week 13 picks.