2024 NFL Playoff Best Bets & Odds: Will Lamar Jackson & Ravens Cover vs. Chiefs?

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Written By Eli Hershkovich | Last Updated
NFL Playoff Best Bets

As NFL playoffs odds near kickoff to settle which teams will advance to Super Bowl 58, this article helps bettors with price discovery and handicapping a point spread, moneyline odds, and total while odds shopping at the best betting sites. In particular, the AFC Championship game between the Ravens and Chiefs stands out — compared to my betting model. Let’s delve into my NFL playoff best bets for this one.

Click any of the sports betting odds below to place a bet. We’ve sorted through them to find the best available.

Bet: ravens to win by four points or more (or push with field-goal victory)

Some bettors may be unfamiliar with the aforementioned term, price discovery. This process takes place when wagers are generated on the opening spread or total. Early action is then used to adjust the number. Shops may also tail the odds of operators that are considered “market makers.” They tinker with their pricing because a competitor repositioned its own. Liability tolerance (or lack thereof) could be enough to reshape the odds at other sportsbooks.

Regarding the Ravens’ odds, they opened as 2.5-point favorites before rising a full point higher almost immediately. I was able to grab -3 (-115) on Sunday night, which you’ve seen above. As of this publishing, Baltimore is favored by .

For those late to the party, I bet the Ravens’ Super Bowl odds at 25-1 in May. Much of it revolved around Lamar Jackson improving under first-year offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Baltimore has also received positive injury luck, unlike the last two seasons.

Granted, two-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes stands in the way of Jackson’s first appearance in the Big Game. Yet, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I’ve added to my Ravens position. Per my numbers, I make them about a four-point favorite. Here’s why I’ve bought into that notion.

Sell High On Goliath?

Fading Mahomes, who is 9-1-1 against the spread (ATS) as an underdog while winning eight of those games outright, is as daunting as it sounds. Among quarterbacks who reached the divisional round, Mahomes owns the second-most EPA per dropback. The Chiefs’ passing offense has clearly risen to another level despite their concerns at receiver throughout the season.

Moreover, he’s the first QB who hasn’t tallied an interception or sack in three consecutive games since the merger. Historic is another way to describe that.

However, Mahomes’ opponents shouldn’t be thrown by the wayside. Beginning with last season’s Super Bowl, the Eagles’ “upper-echelon pass defense” was overstated because of their pain-free schedule. Then, there’s the Dolphins and Bills, which were ravaged by significant injuries on all three levels. In fact, only their offensive performance in Buffalo was appraised as an elite output. DVOA, which evaluates a team’s success based on the down-and-distance of each play during the campaign, gave them an average grade versus Miami.

Baltimore’s Defensive Edge

Enter the Ravens, healthier than the Chiefs’ last two foes combined, especially if corner Marlon Humphrey (calf) returns. The NFL’s top-rated defense (per DVOA) boasts game-wrecking linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, helping impede running back Isaiah Pacheco from reaching the second level. Plus, safety Kyle Hamilton has enough size to go toe-to-toe with Travis Kelce. In order to stymie Mahomes early on, they’ll need to contain the Pro Bowl tight end, who has collected eight targets per game in the postseason.

Confusing Mahomes altogether is another animal. But led by defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Baltimore has thrived by limiting restricting explosive plays through the air. They also utilize man-match coverage at the league’s sixth-highest rate. Mahomes has seen his adjusted net yards per attempt dip by nearly a full yard against man coverage — juxtaposed to a zone. It’s a product of his wide receivers struggling to separate in one-on-one situations.

Up front, Macdonald uses stunts (along with simulated pressures and slot blitzes) at an above-average clip. Not only has Kansas City’s offensive line allowed pressure against stunts at the third-highest rate, but its pass protection has suffered another blow with All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney dealing with a pec strain. Given the continuity up front, a downgrade in the interior would set up Macdonald to exploit them even further.

Don’t be stunned if the Chiefs’ offense takes a step back after exceeding expectations in a one-game sample.

How Will Jackson Respond?

In the divisional round, Texans coach DeMeco Ryans seemingly solved the Ravens’ offense for a quarter-plus, with a variety of pressure looks. In total, Jackson faced a career-high 75.0% blitz rate. Nevertheless, he answered the bell with a hefty dose of quick throws, racking up 8.6 yards per attempt (YPA) in those instances.

Hence, I don’t expect Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolo to rely on the same script — even with their top-tier pressure rate and elite coverage corners in Trent McDuffie and L’Jarius Sneed.

But if Spagnolo seeks to replicate a similar scheme to the one they used against the Bills, Baltimore’s rushing attack will have its way. For one, Buffalo QB Josh Allen paced his team with 4.0 EPA on the ground alone. Much of his success came after linebacker Willie Gay (neck), Kansas City’s defacto QB spy, exited with a neck injury. If Gay’s absence bleeds into Sunday, Jackson may match the 4.9 rushing EPA he manufactured against Houston.

Overall, the Chiefs’ defense continues to represent a run funnel. They rank in the bottom 10 in nearly every category, including DVOA, EPA, run-stop win rate, and explosive carries allowed. The Ravens’ backfield lacks talent after losing Keaton Mitchell (knee), but the threat of Jackson, Gus Edwards, and speedster Justice Hill is more than enough to consistently pound the rock. Reinserting Mark Andrews (ankle), one of the premier run-blocking tight ends, should only help.

This strategy plays to their bottom-five adjusted pace, grinding the clock while keeping Mahomes sidelined.

Final Thoughts

With the market continuing to shift toward Baltimore’s direction, I’d wait on betting the Ravens if you haven’t pulled the trigger. There’s a higher likelihood of Chiefs money coming in later in the week than the spread closing higher than -4. Believe it or not, some sportsbooks reached that number midweek.

If you missed my initial bet, join TheLines.com’s free sports betting Discord to get an instant alert whenever I post one. Head over to the #roles server to enroll in the push notifications for NFL playoff best bets.

STATS
Ravens logo Ravens BAL
Chiefs logo Chiefs KC
Offense Ranking OFF RNK 16th 1st
Defense Ranking DEF RNK T9th 11th
Offense Net Yards Per Game OFF NET YPG 338.8 413.6
Defense Net Yards Per Game DEF NET YPG 324.3 328.2
Passing Yards Per Game PASS YPG 178.8 297.8
Turnovers Committed Per Game TOC PG 1.2 1.4

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