This is without doubt one of the marquee contests of the week and sees the Lions who are at 5-1, having rattled up four wins in a row go to Baltimore who are fresh back from defeating the Titans in London.
Teams coming off a game in London without a bye week are 8-4 straight up and 6-5-1 against the spread since 2007. The Ravens are 4-2 and have held opponents under 300 yards in five of their six games played whilst the Lions have yet to be held under 350 yards of offence.
The fact that the Ravens face the Lions at home should give them a boost as there is always a concern about Jared Goff (the Lions QB) on the road, his QB rating drops dramatically from 98.0 at home to 88.9 on his travels. However, on the upside the Lions bring what can be accurately described as a feisty defence against a Baltimore offence that hasn’t quite clicked in gear yet this season. Plus, the Lions are 3-0 SU on the road on grass and 7-1 ATS their past eight games on the road.
All in all, a tough one to call with positives and negatives for both teams.
In winning their last four straight games the Lions have scored 116 points and in all of those games have won by at least 14 points but this ought to be an tougher test than they have been used to of late. For all of the doubts about the play on the road of Goff the Lions are 3-0 on their travels this year beating the Chiefs, Packers and Buccaneers and their offence has always been efficient and at times explosive. That’s born out by statistics like these – the Lions are second in the NFL in plays of 20 or more yards (32) behind the Dolphins (38) and the fact that they are averaging 7.3 yards per passing play, third in the NFL.
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Add in the fact that 74% of the Detroit scoring plays have been touchdowns and you can see that they are a productive side on offence. Even if they don’t hit the average 29 points that they have scored in their past four games, the over 21 points line at 5-4 looks attainable.
They will need all of their offensive balance and poise here though as they face at Ravens defence that is allowing just 4.0 yards per passing play, the fewest in the NFL and 23.8 % of the scoring plays allowed by Baltimore have been touchdowns, the lowest rate in the league. So, it looks as though something has to give here.
Last Sunday after losing feature running back David Montgomery to injury (he’ll be absent the next few weeks) and despite those road worries about Goff he was excellent, attempting a season-high 44 passes completing 30 of them for 353 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Jahmyr Gibbs looks set to replace Montgomery in the feature back role after missing the last tow games with a hamstring injury and it remains to be seen what his workload will be like. When Montgomery missed Week 3 with a thigh injury, Gibbs banked 18 touches on a 60% snap rate versus Craig Reynolds four touches on a 29% playing-time clip. That could well be the same sort of balance that we see again here although it should be remembered that both Reynolds and Gibbs are largely unproven at the NFL level. Finally, the Ravens have allowed just one rushing score all season and have held opposing backfields to 4.0 yards per carry on the ground.
It may well be that we see the Lions once again adopt a passing template for this game as they did against Tampa Bay last week. Goff certainly isn’t short of viable targets to throw to led by the durable Amon-Ra St, Brown who was a target monster last week pulling in 12 of his 15 targets for 124 yards and his third touchdown of the year. St. Brown now has had either 100 yards or a touchdown in every game this season, but last Sunday was his first game with both. Those statistics if repeated would make St, Brown at 6-4 a fair bet to score a TD and he should be able to threaten going over his receiving yards line set at 71.5 (10-11 with starsports.bet).
Complementing St. Brown at wide receiver are Josh Reynolds and Jameson Williams who is certainly the deep threat in this Lions offence. Catching all three of his targets for 50 yards on Sunday, Reynolds now has hit at least 50 receiving yards every week but one this season and that means his +31.5 receiving yards line at 10-11 looks a little on the low side given the likely game environment. Williams is the one player on the Lions offence who does bring a really different and dangerous dimension and scored a 45-yard TD at Tampa Bay last week in his second game back after serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy.
The Ravens have surrendered the NFL’s ninth-fewest yards to enemy WRs (816), but they will be tested here by the Lions wide receivers and that’s before we get to Detroit’s excellent rookie TE Sam LaPorta. LaPorta enters the week ranked No. 4 among tight ends in targets (42), No. 4 in catches (29), No. 2 in yards (325), and No. 1 in touchdowns (3). Although it has to be noted that this Ravens defence hasn’t (as yet) allowed a touchdown to touchdown to this position and have only allowed on average 25.2 yards per game to tight ends.
Looking at the Star Sports specials this week the Lions are included with the Raiders and Browns at 5-2 to score more than 9+ TD’s and with this game carrying scoring potential and both of the other two teams facing porous defences that’s certainly a play worth a second look.
The Ravens have relied ostensibly on their defence this season in their four victories ranking fourth in opponent points per game but just 15th in points scored per game (22.2). In truth, the Ravens haven’t really opened up their offence yet at least through the air last week against the Titans they attempted just 30 passes, 19 against the Browns in Week 4, 31 in overtime against the Colts in Week 3, 33 against the Bengals in Week 2, and 22 against the Texans in Week 1. The Ravens remain one of the four teams without an offensive touchdown from outside of the red zone and here they face Detroit who are one of three teams left that have not allowed a touchdown from outside of the red zone.
In Lamar Jackson the Ravens at QB certainly have someone who can play through the air, but he is a dangerous runner and remains the focal point of the Baltimore offence. He does need to be careful with the ball though as Jackson has a league-high 7 fumbles this year, from 60 rushing attempts. He faces a strong Detroit rush defence on Sunday, and they will be looking to get pressure on Jackson as when he is kept clean he is completing 78.6% of his passes, second in the NFL. When under pressure, he has completed 46.8%, which is 20th. At some point though expect to see Jackson take off on a designed QB run or even a scramble and he can be hard to defend against in the open field.
The rest of the Baltimore run game looks as though it’s a job share mainly between Justice Hill and Gus Edwards, but neither reached 6o scrimmage yards against the Titans and Detroit have smothered the run to open the year. Kenneth Walker (Seattle) has the most rushing yards in a game against them with just 43.
The pass offence in Baltimore is concentrated amongst its primary two players and then wide open behind those two. Wide receiver Zay Flowers and TE Mark Andrews are the two pass-catchers that the Ravens use on pretty much every down. Flowers hasn’t had a huge week yet in terms of yards gained but he is consistent and secured six catches last week for 50 yards to go along with his first career touchdown. Using Flowers out of the slot would be the best way to attack the Detroit defence as they are 30th in receptions allowed per game to slot receivers and have allowed four touchdowns to interior wide receivers so far.
Andrews, not for the first time could be the Ravens main aerial threat especially against a Lions side that despite not really facing a top class TE rank 30th in the league in receptions allowed per game to tight ends as a whole (6.5), allowing a 75.0% catch rate (23rd), 7.2 yards per target (20th), and a 3.9% touchdown rate (17th) to the position. It’s not hard to see Andrews exceeding his +51.5 receiving yards line (10-11 with starsports.bet) in this matchup.
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Baltimore are always a side to respect when playing at home, but it remains to be seen how they readjust after spending six days in London whilst the Lions are playing on the road for the second straight week and that’s always tough to do. Neither side play at a great pace so that limits any enthusiasm for a real points avalanche but in what should be an entertaining game could it be the Jackson’s record against NFL teams that tilts the game in the Ravens favour.
In his career, Jackson is 15-1 in his career against NFC opponents (7-0 at home), with the only loss coming last season at the Giants. His .938 win percentage vs. the NFC is the best by any QB against the opposing conference since the 1970 merger (min. five starts).
BACK Mark Andrews to score a TD anytime 1pt at 7/4 (⭐
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BACK Amon-Ra St. Brown over +71.5 receiving yards 1pt at 10/11 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (OCT 2023): LOSS -16.74 points