Heading into Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots, there were probably quite a few people that would have answered that question with a ‘heck no!” Their 5-2 record was good, but they were destroyed by the Cleveland Browns and beat three teams they should have clobbered (the Steelers, Cardinals, and Bengals) by less than a touchdown.
Okay, so the win over Seattle was a good one, but the book is still out on just how good the Seahawks are. But Sunday’s game against the mighty New England Patriots? Now that’s a measuring stick. With how the game played out, it looks like the Ravens might have become the team to beat.
So—does that mean it’s time to let it ride on the Ravens? They beat the best in the business pretty handily on national television Sunday night. While the game was close at times, the Patriots were never in control of the game.
But before answering that, it may help to review their odds to win the division/conference/Super Bowl over at DraftKings:
- AFC North: -835 (Steelers are a distant second at +550)
- AFC: +450 (second only to Patriots at -125)
- Super Bowl: +1000 (fourth-best behind the Patriots at +270, Saints at +500, and 49ers at +700)
They were already the clear-cut favorites to win the division. Barring an epic meltdown or an injury to Lamar Jackson, the division title already belongs to them. The Bengals can’t catch them. It is highly doubtful the Browns do. As for the Steelers, well—it is possible but pretty unlikely.
As for the AFC title game, their odds were pretty good before the win over the Patriots (+700). But now they are even better. Chances are good they will meet either the Chiefs or Patriots in that game. If it is the Chiefs, with how Kansas City has played defense the last couple of weeks, there may be hope for them. But the trick to beating the Chiefs remains the same as it was when the Texans and Colts beat them—run the ball and control the clock.
No one does that better than the Ravens! As for the Patriots, they have already shown they can beat them once. It will not be easy to do so again, but it is possible. After watching Sunday night’s game, it is certainly easy to see them beating New England again.
The Super Bowl is a much tougher call to make.
Let’s assume they make it to the big game. They will likely face either the New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys or Minnesota Vikings. At this point, it would be shocking to see the Eagles or Rams make it. Neither has played well enough to hint they could even make it there. Seattle has a shot, but their defense has to play better.
To beat the Ravens, you have to do one of two things—either beat them at their own game and control the ball or score so much early and often that they have no choice but to abandon the run.
Jackson has proven that he can pass against weaker defenses and well enough to augment the run. But not well enough to win a game if the team needed him to. San Francisco looks like they might be able to beat them at their own game. Dallas might be able to, but Baltimore would probably be favored in that game. Minnesota is capable of doing both but could very well implode and beat themselves.
That leaves the New Orleans Saints—who can score fast, run the ball, and play solid defense.
So—how should you bet?
Definitely take the Ravens to win the division, and there is a good chance they could win the AFC as well. As for the Super Bowl, there is value to betting on the Ravens. But they are far from a lock to win. But if you are going to bet on them, do it now before the odds get shorter.