Two weeks before the start of the regular season and NFL betting, the Baltimore Ravens were the favorites to win the AFC North, closely trailed by the Cleveland Browns.
And though the Ravens had lost two important running backs from their run-dominant offense to injury in preseason work, as Baltimore headed into Week 1 of the season, it they were still legitimate favorites. Depending on which Maryland sports betting site you consulted, Baltimore was listed between +110 and +130 to win the division as of early afternoon Friday. The Browns were next at between +130 and +155. At FanDuel, the teams were even at +130 each.
Then Thursday happened and the Ravens lost their last experienced ball-carrier, at least within their own system, when Gus Edwards suffered a knee injury. To make matters worse, on the same day starting cornerback Marcus Peters also went down with a knee injury, taking substantial depth away from the defensive secondary.
Both are season-ending injuries.
The result is that the Ravens are devastated at running back with projected starter J.K. Dobbins out for the season with a torn ACL and rotation RB Justice Hill suffering an Achilles tendon injury.
It appears that the Ravens will make do with RBs that either have little experience or whose best days might be behind them.
Despite all of that, Baltimore opens the season as a 4-point favorite on Monday night against the Raiders in Las Vegas. The over-under has been at 50.
There won’t be legal Maryland sports betting available in time for the opener, unlike in Arizona where retail and mobile online sports betting launched on Thursday (as did limited retail-only wagering in Washington state and South Dakota). There is legal sports betting available in Washington, D.C. Maryland aims to have sports betting at retail locations before the NFL season ends with wagers at online casinos most likely becoming an option some time in 2022.
Lamar Jackson Biggest Key for Baltimore
As usual, the Ravens are destined to go as far as their brilliant quarterback, Lamar Jackson, can take them.
Jackson’s lifetime record as a starter is 30-7 with 68 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions in the regular season. He has taken the Ravens to the playoffs three straight years. If there’s a knock on Jackson, it has been his work in those playoff games, where he is 1-3 with just three TD passes and five interceptions to go along with 367 rushing yards.
There’s one more thing about Jackson that can’t be overlooked in this day and age. He has tested positive for COVID-19 twice and has refused to reveal his vaccination status. Protocols for non-vaccinated players are stricter than for vaccinated players so that makes Jackson, the supposed leader of the team, a wild card.
With an evolving depth chart of late, the Ravens’ Super Bowl odds were at +1400 or +1500, among the top three or four teams in the AFC. Kansas City is the NFL as well as AFC favorite at +450 to +500, followed by the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, at +600 to +700.