NFL Picks & Preview — Ravens: Same Offense, Lower Octane

As the Baltimore Ravens have been ravaged by the coronavirus over the last ten days or so, they are not going to resemble the same team that has taken the field for the other ten games they have played.

Or will there be that much of a difference? Let’s explore for the sake of the BetOnline audience.

The game between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been pushed back a couple of times and in the opinion of many, shouldn’t be played at all. But it is going to kick off at 3:40 PM ET on Wednesday, at Heinz Field (NBC).

Here are the odds we are using for this NFL Preview:

Pittsburgh Steelers -10
Baltimore Ravens +10

Over 42 Points -110
Under 42 Points -110

And keep in mind that with Odds Booster, you can find greatly enhanced payouts on pre-selected parlays – and that happens every day!

Lamar Jackson had that amazing season last year , throwing for 36 touchdowns with only five interceptions, winning the MVP in the process. But he only threw for 208.5 yards a game. Much of his value came through his ability to run with the football, as he set a record for quarterbacks with 1206 yards.

Some of those numbers got toned down a little this year. Jackson has still been somewhat effective, but his team has not produced offensively, ranking no higher than 26th in yards per drive.

Jackson has registered lower numbers through the air and on the ground, and has “complained” to reporters about the Baltimore offense being too predictable; that opponents seem to know what’s coming.

That might actually be the truth. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman is a terrific assistant coach. BetOnline patrons may remember what he did on the fly to make Colin Kaepernick an effective quarterback in the NFL. And he helped Jackson adapt quickly.

But as a passer, you can’t do as much with Jackson as you could, say, with a guy like Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes. So when a defense figures out a way to contain you – or at least prevent you from becoming a game-changer with your legs – you might indeed become kind of predictable.

So now along comes Robert Griffin III, who will be pressed into action with Jackson on the shelf with COVID-19. If you’ve been around for a few years, you remember that Griffin came into the NFL as a Heisman winner who relied a lot on improvising with his legs, and was a little short in the pure passing department. He got banged up a little and got robbed of some of his mobility, and the attempt on the part of Jay Gruden and others to turn him into the quarterback of a West Coast offense didn’t work.

But he caught on with the Ravens because he was familiar with the kind of offense Roman had crafted for Jackson. He just won’t be able to execute it as well. And he hasn’t had any practice to prepare for the top-ranked Steeler defense. And he won’t have some key weaponry – we are talking about people like wide receiver Willy Snead and tight end Mark Andrews, not to mention running back Mark Ingram (a fellow Heisman winner).

And then consider that there are going to be offensive linemen missing – when last we checked, DJ Fluker was off the COVID reserve list, but Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari were on the shelf, with Pro Bowl tackle Ronnie Stanley out of action as it is with an ankle injury. And by the way, no one rushes the passer quite like Pittsburgh does.

So to summarize, with 19 players on the COVID-19 list (that figure is “fluid”), many of them on offense, on that side of the ball the Ravens may look the same in terms of style, but will be operating with less in the way of horsepower. So don’t expect a repeat of the 473-230 yardage advantage Baltimroe had in the first meeting between these teams. Rather, expect more of a reversal.

At BetOnline, this game is the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving Score Predictor, which has been pushed back, since the Steelers-Ravens clash was rescheduled. We are going to check out Odds Booster for better parlay payouts, and explore some live betting during the contest itself. For purposes for an exact prediction, we’re going to go with…..

Steelers 30, Ravens 13

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