Ravens heavily-backed as TD favorite at Dolphins
The Baltimore Ravens, the leaders of the AFC North, are set to visit the Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.
Baltimore (6-2) has dominated Miami (2-7) of late, winning their three most recent matchups by a cumulative score of 137-16.
The last came in 2019, when the Ravens traveled to Miami and steamrolled the Dolphins 59-10.
Baltimore enters the game as a popular 7.5-point road favorite, with 87 percent of the bets and 88 percent of the handle at DraftKings backing the Ravens. The action has also been lopsided at PointsBet, where the line has held at 7.5 points despite 83 percent of the bets and 87 percent of the money backing Baltimore.
Meanwhile, AI-driven analytics company Quarter4 has forecast the Ravens with a 60 percent chance of winning Thursday night.
Baltimore ranks first in the NFL this year in rushing yards per game (161.6) and second in total yards (427.9). The Ravens are averaging 27.6 points, which ranks seventh in the NFL and third in the AFC.
The Ravens’ high-powered offense is led by a pair of South Florida natives — quarterback Lamar Jackson and wide receiver Marquise Brown.
Jackson, a 24-year-old native of Boynton Beach, Fla., ran 21 times for 120 yards in last week’s 34-31 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings.
It was Jackson’s 12th 100-yard-plus rushing game counting the postseason, the most ever by an NFL quarterback. Michael Vick, who played 13 years, had the previous record with 11.
This is just Jackson’s fourth season, and Ravens coach John Harbaugh feels no need to minimize a major Baltimore weapon.
“We won,” Harbaugh said. “Would you rather not run (Jackson) 21 times and lose the game? It’s crazy to even suggest that.”
Jackson, who is completing 65 percent of his passes for a career-best 276 yards per game so far this season, has clearly improved as a passer, and it shows.
In his first three years in the league, Jackson was 0-6 when the Ravens fell behind by double digits. This season, Jackson is the first quarterback in 2021 to win after facing three double-digit deficits (against the Vikings, Chiefs and Colts).
Brown, a 24-year-old from Hollywood, Fla., leads the Ravens in catches (46), yards (682), average per catch (14.8) and touchdown receptions (six).
He was limited in practice earlier this week due to a back injury, but Brown was a full participant in Wednesday’s walk-through and was not listed on the final injury report.
Brown’s complement in the passing game is tight end Mark Andrews, who has 42 catches for 560 yards and three TDs.
The Ravens are likely to be without running back Latavius Murray, who is listed as doubtful with an ankle injury. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams (shoulder) is questionable after not practice on Wednesday.
Also questionable are tight end Nick Boyle (knee) and wide receiver Sammy Watkins (thigh). Boyle was limited on Wednesday while Watkins was a full participant.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins, who are 7.5-point underdogs at home, haven’t yet announced their starting quarterback for Thursday’s game.
Starter Tua Tagovailoa missed last week’s 17-9 Dolphins win over the Houston Texans due to a fractured and swollen middle finger on his throwing hand. He was limited in practice on Monday and Tuesday and officially listed as questionable on Wednesday.
The injury made it tough for Tagovailoa to grip the ball, and Dolphins coached Brian Flores opted for backup Jacoby Brissett, who won his first game since 2019.
Miami, though, turned the ball over five times in a sloppy offensive game. Brissett was intercepted twice, and he also lost a fumble.
It was Miami’s first five-giveaways-or-more win since 1990. They had been 0-for-21 in such games in the interim.
Miami’s defense, however, forced four turnovers as the Dolphins snapped a seven-game losing skid.
“Finally, something positive,” said Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki, who made a pair of one-handed grabs.
Aside from Tagovailoa, starting center Greg Mancz was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with an ankle injury.
Miami did receive good news with safety Brandon Jones (ankle) and linebacker Jerome Baker (knee) participating fully in the final practice of the week. Reserve defensive back Elijah Campbell is a game-day decision with a toe injury.
Jones, who plans to play, is wary of Jackson.
“He’s a playmaker with his feet,” Jones said. “It’s going to be hard. He’s fast. He puts people on skates 24/7. It’s super rare to see someone that quick who also has top-end speed. He can put you on ESPN (highlights) for getting shook.”
The Over/Under is 46.5 points at both sportsbooks. The Over has been backed by 62 percent of the bets and 56 percent of the money at DraftKings and 67 and 74 percent, respectively, at PointsBet.
–Field Level Media