NFL

Tuesday Night Football Betting Preview: Can the Ravens Vault Themselves Into Playoff Contention?

Baltimore takes the field after losing to their bitter rivals last Wednesday. Can they bounce back?

What is seemingly a rarity is now becoming the norm -- there isn't just football on Thursdays, Sundays, and Mondays anymore. On Tuesday night, we get the final game of Week 13 due to the delay from COVID-19 for the Baltimore Ravens. They will take on the Dallas Cowboys and need to be focused, as they are presently on the outside looking in for the AFC playoff race.

According to our power rankings, this one could get ugly. The Ravens are our seventh-ranked team, while Dallas checks in as our fourth-worst team in the league.

Let's dive into what our model thinks could be some intriguing betting angles for this contest.

Take the Ugly Cowboys and the Points

There's no other way to describe it -- like it has been for many, the 2020 season for America's Team has been a disaster.

With a season-ending injury to quarterback Dak Prescott, and then pricey backup Andy Dalton also missing time, the Cowboys are fortunate to play in the absolutely mediocre NFC East, where a glimmer of playoff hope still shines despite an ugly 3-8 record.

Meanwhile, the Ravens and Lamar Jackson are fighting for their playoff lives. The division is an afterthought, but a wild card spot is still within grasp.

If Dallas has any hopes of springing the upset (moneyline +320 on FanDuel Sportsbook), the Red Rocket has to be better under center. He's been absolutely dreadful in relief pitcher mode, rocking a -0.10 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back this season. Yes, fam, in 163 drop backs, he's lost his team -17.83 NEP. Yikes!

On the flip side, Lamar Jackson has been slightly below league average (0.12 Passing NEP per pass), and that's limited the Ravens quite a bit. It looks like J.K. Dobbins will return to the fold, though, which could be promising.

Perhaps the key thing to keep in mind is the issue of COVID-19. Jackson is expected to suit up but has barely had any time to practice with the team during quarantine. With extra time to prepare, the Cowboys and the points seem like a solid bet.

Per oddsFire, the public is ignoring all of this data, and 67% of bets and 64% of cash have sided with the home Ravens.

Bets to Consider

Despite all of the craziness in this game, our algorithm loves the home Ravens -- but it may have a hard time accounting for the volatility around COVID-19 for a team that won't necessarily be playing at full strength.

If you want to get spicy and think the Ravens are out for blood, take the home team. Despite the 8.5-point spread, our model sees Baltimore hitting 58.52% of the time.

What is bizarre, assuming Jackson plays, is his passing prop. Our model has the quarterback coming out strong and passing for about 217 yards. Interestingly, his passing yards prop at FanDuel Sportsbook is only at 181.5, with even -110 odds on both sides.

What's truly perplexing about this prop is checking Jackson's game log. We know he's a boss on the ground, but Jackson has surpassed that prop every game but three, including a 180 yard effort in that mix.

Historical Betting Trends

-- These teams are somewhat similar from an against-the-spread (ATS) perspective in 2020 -- they have both been bad bets. The Ravens have been slightly better at 5-6, but the Cowboys have been dreadful with a 2-9 mark.
-- This contest originally started as a double-digit spread. When the Ravens have been home as double-digit favorites, they have only covered 4 out of their last 16 games.
-- Dallas, as an underdog, has been slightly better for bettors. They are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games in this situation.
-- The over isn't the worst bet. In the last five meetings between these two teams, the over has hit four times.