NFL Betting Picks – Ravens Vs Atlanta Falcons (-1)

Week 10 marks the return of the NFL’s Thursday night games. Forbettors, these games can be difficult to assess because of the extremelyshort turnaround teams have after playing just four days prior. Commonsense would dictate that the road team is more likely to lose theseThursday night games due to having to rest and recover from a Sundaygame, practice and then quickly head out on the road in such a shorttime.

Prompted by a comment made on ESPN’s Bill Simmons’ podcast, I lookedat the won/loss record of home teams on Thursday games over the last twoseasons from Week 10 on. The good news for Baltimore is that the commonsense hypothesis doesn’t hold water. Home teams in Thursday games went4-5 last season and 5-4 in 2008. In other words, road teams with thequick turnaround don’t appear to be at a distinct disadvantage duringthese Thursday games.

That said, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (pictured above) hasn’t losta home game in Atlanta since Nov. 16, 2008. With the spread at only 1point, Vegas oddsmakers are essentially saying bettors need to selectthe team who can win this game outright. That makes a lot of sense,given that the Falcons and Ravens aren’t built to blow out opponents.The Falcons have played close games, with the exception of a 41-7 win athome against the Cardinals in Week 2. The Ravens, meanwhile, trouncedthe Broncos and Dolphins at home but every other game they’ve played hasbeen decided by a touchdown or less.

Bessire’s Take: “As the Ravens proved in an impressive, dominatingperformance against the Miami Dolphins last week, they are one of thebest teams in the NFL right now. Not only is Atlanta the inferior team,the Falcons are generally overrated. Despite a 6-2 record, the Falconsrank 11th in our most recent power rankings. Baltimore may not have anyeye-popping stats — especially on defense, where the team is not quiteits intimidating self — but the Ravens win with balance, by not hurtingthemselves. They have also played the sixth toughest schedule in theleague and have only lost two close games. Atlanta has the same record,yet against the 15th toughest schedule in the league. The Falconsrushing attack, led by Michael Turner, is the only matchup other thanhome-field where Atlanta has the advantage. At this point, we assumethat he will play and be at full strength, but the fact that star widereceiver Roddy White is banged up can’t hurt the likelihood of our upsetpick.” Take: “ opened this Thursday night eventwith the hometown team Atlanta as a 1-point favorite. So far, the headcount is on the Ravens. However, the majority of the money is on theFalcons. It is more predictable to see this number go to 2 rather thandown to a pick.”

The Pick: Ravens +1. Vegas is beseeching bettors to take the Falconswith that one-point line, which is why it could move higher into theweekend. And according to my numbers show, the Falcons should win by sixpoints, thanks to a better turnover differential (+7 to +1 for theRavens) and home-field advantage. But as the data show, home-fieldadvantage doesn’t necessarily exist during these Thursday games. And theRavens have stopped turning the ball over, which was a problem for theteam in the first few weeks. Baltimore’s defense is heating up too,forcing nine turnovers in the last three games alone. This all couldlead to Matt Ryan’s first home loss in two years.