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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson takes off in the open field. (Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire)
January 20th, 2024
The 2024 Divisional Round will kick off on Saturday afternoon with the fourth-seeded Houston Texans visiting Baltimore to face the top-seeded Ravens. Baltimore and fellow top seed in the NFC, San Francisco, are both heavily favored on Saturday, as 9.5-point favorites over their opponents.
Sportsbooks like Draftkings are not only offering in-game odds but playoff specials, as well as specific Super Bowl odds on the team to win by a specific margin.
Below we look at a few of the playoff specials available for the Baltimore Ravens, with YouBet's pick for each.
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Projected MVP winner Lamar Jackson has his team back atop the AFC and will attempt to go much farther in the playoffs than he did the last time the Ravens earned the No. 1 seed at the end of the 2019 season.
Jackson has posted his best season as a passer, with a career-high 67.2% completion percentage and 3,678 passing yards, but that has not taken away from his effectiveness on the ground. The former Heisman winner finished the regular season with 821 rushing yards on 148 carries to go with five rushing scores.
At Draftkings, you can bet the Over/Under on Jackson's rushing touchdowns in the playoffs, with the total set at just 0.5. While that total is low, note that Jackson has not reached paydirt with his legs since a 38-6 win over Detroit in mid-October. Since then, he's had a nine-game drought without a rushing touchdown, but that could all change on Saturday.
No team has surrendered more rushing scores to quarterbacks than the Texans (7), and the run-stop unit has given up one rushing score to a QB in three of the last seven regular-season games.
Jackson's best chance to score on the ground is Saturday but should Baltimore win and advance in the postseason, Jackson's potential opponents will make it much tougher on him. The Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills have both allowed four rushing TDs to QBs, while the San Francisco 49ers have surrendered two, and the Green Bay Packers have conceded just one this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions have given up six and five rushing touchdowns, respectively, to quarterbacks but like Green Bay, they're a longshot to win the NFC championship.
All five of Jackson's rushing scores in 2023 have come in the red zone, where he's run the ball 32 times for 122 rushing yards. However, with the way Gus Edwards has performed in the red zone, Baltimore can let Jackson sit back and focus on the passing game. Be cautious on Lamar's total rushing touchdowns, even with such a low total. If he doesn't score against Houston, it's not likely to happen deeper into the playoffs.
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With J.K. Dobbins out for the majority of the season with a torn Achilles, Gus Edwards has emerged as the lead back in Baltimore. Inside the red zone, Edwards has been especially busy, with a team-high 39 rushing attempts, which he's converted into 13 touchdowns. Backup Justice Hill has gotten another 24 touches inside the 20-yard line, and he's reached paydirt three times.
The Ravens also signed Dalvin Cook to the 53-man roster earlier in the week after Cook spent two weeks on Baltimore's practice squad. The four-time Pro Bowler had a disappointing first year with the New York Jets, as he recorded a career-low 214 rushing yards.
Edwards will likely remain the primary back in the red zone, and the Ravens rank second in the league in red-zone scoring attempts. The Texans ranked 15th in the NFL in opponent red-zone scores per game (touchdowns only), with 1.7, while Kansas City (1.4) and San Francisco (1.4) were a top-10 red-zone defense. Buffalo averaged 1.6 opponent red-zone scores per game, and Green Bay has allowed 1.8 (ranked 23rd in the league).
Since the Ravens' bye week, Edwards has scored in three of five matchups, and he's had three games this season with multiple rushing touchdowns (Cincinnati, Seattle, Arizona).
The Texans rank 27th in opponent rushing touchdowns per game (1.1), but the rest of the teams in the playoffs average fewer than one opponent rushing touchdown per contest.
We still feel confident Edwards can find paydirt more than once in the playoffs and will take the plus-odds on the Over. Inside the 10-yard line, he has a 37% touch percentage and that rate goes up to 55% within the 5-yard line.
Another Gus Edwards touchdown 📈pic.twitter.com/HCIq3xwSiY— DraftKings (@DraftKings) November 17, 2023
Another Gus Edwards touchdown 📈pic.twitter.com/HCIq3xwSiY
As for Baltimore's receiving corps, rookie Zay Flowers has emerged as Jackson's top target with Mark Andrews relegated to injured reserve after Week 11.
The former Boston College standout has reeled in a team-high 77 receptions on 108 targets for 858 yards and five receiving touchdowns. He'll be a key cog in the passing game, and Flowers is coming off a career-high 106 receiving yards in his most recent outing, a 56-19 win over Miami in Week 17. (He rested in Week 18.)
On Saturday, he'll confront a Texans pass defense that ranks 24th in the league (235.9 yards per game), and he already caught nine of 10 targets for 78 yards in his first meeting with Houston this season, back in Week 1.
If the Ravens reach the AFC Championship Game, Flowers will have to go up against a top-10 passing defense in either Kansas City or Buffalo, but he should still be able to hit the Over on total playoff receiving yards with a decent cushion coming in from a strong receiving day against Houston.
Should Baltimore reach the Super Bowl, Flowers could have a field day. He already caught for 72 yards against San Francisco in Week 16, and in the unlikely event Detroit or Tampa Bay make the big game, both defenses rank in the bottom 10 against the pass. Green Bay is a middling 14th in opponent passing yards (216.8) and just gave up 100 receiving yards to each of CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup in the wild-card round.
Look for Flowers to have a couple of standout games along his rookie playoff journey.
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