Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:45 AM EST.
1:00 PM EST. The Ravens went into Los Angeles in Week 16 and beat the Chargers by double digits, 22-10. We had the Ravens that day and it’s not because we like them. Here is what we wrote regarding that choice:
We’re in the buy low/sell high business and therefore the Bolts must be sold after their enormous and resonating come from behind win over the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. It was a 15-point comeback in the final 3:49 at Kansas City that pulled off the upset and makes the Chargers tied for the No. 1 seed and also tied for AFC West. They also travel to Denver next week to play the Broncs in their regular season finale. Situationally speaking, this is a brutal spot for the Chargers so watch them exhale and then watch the Ravens walk right through that window of opportunity. Ravens outright.
Nothing is the same this week as it was when Baltimore played in L.A. two weeks ago. First, Baltimore was fighting for their playoff lives while the Bolts were already locked in so it was all hands on deck for the Ravens that week. In other words, the Chargers saw Baltimore throw everything they had at them while Baltimore saw a fraction of what the Chargers and Philip Rivers are capable of. Furthermore, the Ravens offense is not difficult to prepare for. In fact, of the 32 teams in the NFL, Baltimore may be the easiest team to prepare for and the Bolts just saw them two weeks ago. Additionally, it is so much tougher to prepare for a guy like Lamar Jackson the very first time a team sees him but not that difficult the second time around (see Tim Tebow). The Baltimore Ravens have a very simple offense and the Chargers defense comes in healthy this time around, unlike it was two weeks ago.
Speaking of Lamar Jackson, he’s a very limited QB playing in his first playoff game. Dude can run but he cannot throw (see Tim Tebow). His best game is 204 yards but he’s usually in the 140-160 range (see Tim Tebow) and he has not completed more than 14 passes in any of his starts (see Tim Tebow).
Give Jackson credit for going 6-1 as a starter but who did he and the Ravens beat? Tampa? Yes and they scored 20 points (they won 20-12) against the Bucs when every other team was putting up 40. They also beat Atlanta 26-16 and then they went on to defeat Oakland, Cincinnati and finally, Cleveland last week. You know what all those teams have in common? None made the playoffs. We should also point out that the refs must be given credit for that two-point win over the Browns last Sunday after they blew the whistle on a goal-line fumble that Cleveland took back to the house. Had they not wrongly blown their whistle on that crucial play, Cleveland wins that game and we’d be discussing Pittsburgh right now.
The Chargers were a -5½-point favorite that day two weeks and now they’re a +2½-point dog because why? That’s an eight-point swing that’s not warranted. The Bolts actually play better on the road, where they posted the NFL’s best road record at 7-1. Among the teams they beat on the road were Kansas City, Seattle and Pittsburgh. They also beat the Brownies in Cleveland, 38-14 while the Ravens needed referee help to beat the Brownies by two in Baltimore.
We also get the experienced arm, talent and brain of Philip Rivers in an 8-point swing in our favor against the inexperienced, one-dimensional and very limited talent of Lamar Jackson. Pay no attention to what Rivers and the Bolts did against the Ravens two weeks ago because it matters not. Like Tom Brady and other great QB’s, Rivers is as competitive as any of them and wants to win as badly as any too. He spends excessive time in the film room to be as prepared as he possibly can be.
Philip Rivers has never been considered on the same level as his generation's top quarterbacks (Peyton Manning and Tom Brady) while the two other quarterbacks from his draft class (Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger) have both gone on to win multiple Super Bowls. Even when he entered the NFL, Rivers was ultimately viewed as the consolation prize for the Chargers because Eli Manning refused to play for the franchise and forced a trade. He was still a first-round pick, but not the top quarterback in his class or an immediate starter. In fact, he sat for two seasons while both Eli Manning and Roethlisberger each started at least 16 games and gained widespread applause for their early performances.
Rivers hasn't won a Super Bowl (or even played in one), but he has played to an MVP level for much of his career. Since 2006, when Rivers was first a full-time starter, he has thrown the fourth-most touchdowns behind Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, while only Brees has thrown for more yards. Rivers has finished among the top three quarterbacks in passing DYAR four times, and has ranked in the top 10 a total of seven times. This season has been one of his best but Eli Manning gets more press than Rivers and so, too, does Lamar Jackson. So, you tell us, in a QB/offense driven league, who do you want, Tim Tebow or Philip Rivers getting points. We may not win this game (see Seattle covering yesterday) but damn, we’re going with the best of it in terms of value.
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L.A. Chargers +2½ +112 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.24)