Even in oddsmaking capital, Ravens look like a sure bet

November 19, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

LAS VEGAS -- It was only a matter of time before the professional oddsmakers in Nevada got wind of my otherworldly ability to predict the performance of the Ravens and summoned me to Sin City to examine my brain.

Can you blame them?

Last week, they said the Ravens were a healthy seven-point favorite against the lowly Tennessee Titans. I said that they would barely survive and encouraged Matt Stover to "keep his shoes tied." The Ravens won by an extra point, and I improved my record against the spread in their games to 8-1.

The week before, I predicted that Samari Rolle would attain "a small measure of redemption" against the Cincinnati Bengals after getting burned several times earlier in the season. He intercepted a pass early in the game that was returned for a touchdown, though - strangely - he didn't return it himself.

I suppose that could all be dumb luck, but I'm lying here in a secret laboratory in the basement of one of the big strip hotels with electrodes attached to my forehead and some guy in a white coat reading me Steve McNair's quarterback ratings for each of his nine regular-season games as a Raven.

Every once in a while, the guy pokes at my teeth and says, "Is it safe?" which tells me he's also a movie trivia buff.

Obviously, the pressure is on. The Ravens are a four-point favorite today at M&T Bank Stadium against a pretty good Atlanta Falcons team, which means that the people who are supposed to know this stuff consider it almost a toss-up game - if the home-field advantage is worth three points on the betting line.

I don't think it'll be that close. The Ravens will be better prepared defensively against Michael Vick and Co. because of their scary afternoon against Vince Young last week. McNair will be sharp and Jamal Lewis will be rested and rumbling. I'm thinking 27-13.

Falcons at Ravens (-4): If the Ravens keep their heads about them, it will be a good day to go 8-2. Ravens.

Redskins at Buccaneers (-3): The Redskins debut their new quarterback today. The Buccaneers won't be in a welcoming mood. Buccaneers.

Bears (-6 1/2 ) at Jets: Rookie coach Eric Mangini has the Jets back in business, but some of the euphoria of their surprising start is going to wear off today. Bears.

Raiders at Chiefs (-9): Though it's tempting to bet against rusty returning quarterback Trent Green, this game just smells like a blowout. Chiefs.

Steelers (-3 1/2 ) at Browns: How bad do you have to be to be the underdog at home against a 3-6 last-place opponent? Yep, that bad. Steelers.

Bengals at Saints (-3 1/2 ): This is a desperation game for Carson Palmer and the Bengals. That should be enough to keep them within a field goal. Bengals.

Titans at Eagles (-13): The Titans busted a bigger spread than this at Indianapolis and played the Ravens tough last week. They're probably due for a drubbing, but that's just too many points. Titans.

Rams at Panthers (-6 1/2 ): Did anybody notice that the Rams are tied for second place in the NFC West with the 49ers? The humiliation just might be too much to overcome. Panthers.

Bills at Texans (-3): If your kids were really bad last night, you should punish them by making them watch this game. Texans.

Patriots (-5 1/2 ) at Packers: I don't know why the Patriots should have any trouble with the Packers. I just know they will. Packers.

Vikings at Dolphins (-3 1/2 ): This is another game that will make you second-guess yourself for buying the NFL Sunday Ticket. I don't think either team is capable of winning, but the Dolphins are less likely to lose. Dolphins.

Lions at Cardinals (-2): I've got to believe that Matt Leinart will have another good game eventually, and this would be the week to do it. Cardinals.

Seahawks (-3) at 49ers: It's the second half of the season, and the 49ers can move into a first-place tie with a victory at home. What a great story that would be. 49ers.

Colts (pick) at Cowboys: The last undefeated team in the NFL will cease to be undefeated today, though it would be nice if it kept winning right up to its usual middle-round playoff loss. Cowboys.

Chargers at Broncos (-2 1/2 ): Big showdown for first place in the AFC West, but I fear Philip Rivers and LaDainian Tomlinson used up all of this week's points in the second half last week. Broncos.

Giants at Jaguars (-3 1/2 ): If the Giants are legit, they should be able to make the Jaguars sweat out the final minutes of the game. Monday night thriller could have a twist ending. Giants.

As always, these picks are not intended to encourage anyone to gamble on football. They are for recreational purposes only, which - considering last week's dismal overall performance against the spread - is probably a good thing.


The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.