Baltimore Ravens NFL Betting Preview: Jackson Delivers Action

Posted on: August 17, 2020, 07:12h. 

Last updated on: August 18, 2020, 07:50h.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson’s childhood nickname was “Smiley Face.” In winning NFL MVP honors and leading Baltimore to an NFL-best 14-2 record last season, Jackson’s second year was a giant ear-to-ear grin.

Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was the second unanimous MVP in NFL history (Image: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY Sports)

Other than a miserable performance in an upset loss to Tennessee in the playoffs, Jackson was incredible. He set a bunch of NFL records, including becoming the first player to throw for 30-plus touchdowns with 1,000-plus rushing yards. Conventional wisdom suggests Jackson can’t replicate that success. The trend-setting Jackson, however, doesn’t care about such things.

“They’re preparing for me. But I’m preparing even more for them,” he told Sports Illustrated.

The Ravens are the consensus second-best bet to win the Super Bowl, behind only the defending champs, Kansas City. The Ravens are +600 at William Hill and PointsBet, +650 at MGM and DraftKings, and +700 at FanDuel.

Over/Under: 11.5 Wins

The reason why sportsbooks are so bullish on Baltimore runs beyond Jackson. The Ravens finished first in points scored, third in points allowed, and first in point differential last season. Combined with esteemed coach John Harbaugh, the Ravens can win in every which way imaginable. Moreover, based on last year’s winning percentages, the Ravens have the easiest schedule in the NFL.

With so many factors in their favor, FanDuel established an over/under of 11.5 wins (+100 on the over; -120 on the under).

Regardless of the sportsbook, the Ravens are heavy favorites to win the AFC North again. At William Hill, for instance, they are -260 with Pittsburgh a distant second at +380.

The Ravens finished last season with the best regular-season record and the best odds to win the championship entering the playoffs,” an analyst from William Hill told “With most of their roster returning and only two ‘elite’ teams in their conference, Baltimore remains a clear favorite to win it all.”

Some off-season additions will help their cause. They added defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe in free agency, and drafted linebackers Patrick Queen (first round) and Malik Harrison (third round), running back JK Dobbins (second round), and receiver Devin Duvernay (third round). That’s the rich getting richer.

Reason to Smile

The Ravens are a well-rounded powerhouse. Last season, they tied a record with 12 players selected to the Pro Bowl. In this year’s NFL Network “Top 100 Players” series, Baltimore and New Orleans were tied for first with seven selections. Running back Mark Ingram was No. 44, cornerback Marcus Peters was No. 53, left tackle Ronnie Stanley was No. 74, safety Earl Thomas was No. 75, Campbell was No. 79, and cornerback Marlon Humphrey was No. 86.

Jackson was No. 1 on the NFL Network list, and he’s No. 2 on PointsBet’s MVP board at +600, trailing only Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes (+400).

Queen, who is projected to start at middle linebacker, is No. 3 on PointsBet’s Defensive Rookie of the Year list at +1,000. With such a talented roster, Harbaugh is merely +2,000 to win Coach of the Year.

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth of 32 NFL team previews. The series, which led off with the NFC North, continues this week with the rest of the AFC North.