One of the most highly anticipated matchups of the 2019 NFL season here as the San Francisco 49ers travel to take on the Baltimore Ravens. It's a potential Super Bowl preview, as each team enters this game appearing to be the best in their respective conferences. Oddsmakers have the Ravens a modest favorite here for this one, which unfortunately isn't the standalone primetime game.
San Francisco has defied all expectations in the first full year of the Jimmy Garoppolo/Kyle Shanahan partnership, and they enter this game with only one loss. They're coming off a huge win over the Packers, in which they seemed to silence many of their doubters by blowing out Green Bay. They're playing for the top seed in the NFC now, and have a one-game lead over everybody else.
Beating the teams that have defied all expectations, that applies to the Ravens as well. After a mediocre start Baltimore has caught fire, and they enter this one on a seven-game winning streak with the best point differential in the NFL. They've been rolling over everybody in their path, and just demolished the Rams on Monday Night Football most recently. Lamar Jackson is the clear MVP frontrunner.
49ers On TopThe 49ers have gotten off to a near-perfect start this season, racing out to a 10-1 record. They're in the driver's seat for the top seed in the NFC, and Kyle Shanahan is the favorite for Coach of the Year. Despite all the hype, I'm still not completely sold. They had an incredibly easy schedule early on, with games against the Buccaneers, Bengals, and Redskins to help them get off to their hot start. In their first real tough test of the season, they lost to the Seahawks in overtime. They dominated the Packers this past week, but I'm not giving them too much credit for that since I think it had more to due with Green Bay being overrated than anything else.
The 49ers like to run the ball a lot, and getting the ground game going will be key here. Jimmy Garoppolo has been good when the conditions are favorable, but they might not be here on the road against a Ravens secondary that has suddenly become elite since acquiring Marcus Peters. Jimmy G's decision-making has been highly questionable at times, and he already has ten interceptions this year. San Francisco's defense has been carrying the team, but they haven't been quite as good in recent weeks. They've sometimes struggled against creative offenses, giving up at least 25 points both times they played the Cardinals. Overall, they've given up at least 25 points in three of their past four games. Another interesting factor to note is that they're a west coast team going across the country for an early start, which could affect them here.
Lamar Jackson MVP?The Ravens have been dominant just like San Francisco. They're 9-2 and have looked like the best team in the AFC recently. They were mediocre in the first month of the season, but they've since rattled off seven straight wins. Lamar Jackson is the frontrunner for MVP, and the offense has been putting up some absurd numbers. The unit has been so good, that they're on pace for the fewest punts ever in a 16-game season. They have a dominant ground game led by Mark Ingram and Jackson, and the Louisville product has also been elite as a passer. They've scored at least 37 points in four straight games and have won each of their last three by at least 34, so I don't think any defense is going to be able to slow them down.
The defense, and particularly the secondary were shaky early on. The unit was banged up, and I was worried about if the defense would be able to hold up their end of the bargain. They made a bold move in response, trading for cornerback Marcus Peters with the Rams. They also got back top corner Jimmy Smith from injury and combined with safety Earl Thomas they've formed an elite back-half of the defense. As such, nobody has been beating them over the top recently. Baltimore suddenly has one of the league's best defenses, and they just held the Texans to seven points and forced Deshaun Watson to have one of the worst games of his career. The week before that they dominated Tom Brady, and they just made Jared Goff look like a high school quarterback most recently.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Ravens are:
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games on fieldturf
- 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win
- 6-13 ATS in their last 19 games in Week 13
- 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games on fieldturf