The Baltimore Ravens have been solid preseason NFL picks ever since John Harbaugh took over the coaching reins. They’ll get another shot at the Miami Dolphins Thursday night.
Yes, Virginia, there is betting on the NFL preseason. And this can be a very lucrative time of year, especially if you’re paying close attention to the coaches. This is their show, and some coaches take August football more seriously than others. Consider John Harbaugh, for instance; he’s got the Baltimore Ravens at 25-12 SU and 24-13 ATS since donning the headset in 2008. Not too shabby.
Harbaugh and the Ravens will be in action this Thursday (7:00 p.m. ET) when they visit the Miami Dolphins, who are in Year Two under the watchful eye of head coach Adam Gase (3-2 SU and ATS). Baltimore opened as a 2.5-point underdog, and go figure, our consensus reports show roughly 60 percent of bettors putting the Ravens in their preseason NFL picks. That’s against the spread; the moneyline has almost everyone taking Baltimore at +135. Shall we join them?
Not Now John
Betting against Harbaugh doesn’t seem like a good idea. He was born into a football family, and he takes the sport very seriously – maybe even to the detriment of his own team, given how many man-games the Ravens have lost to injury over the years. They started the 2017 preseason by dismantling Washington 23-3, cashing in as 2-point home dogs. And they lost another player: starting LG Alex Lewis is gone for the year with a torn labrum.
This is going to bite the Ravens come the regular season; they’ve already seen rookie OG Nico Siragusa tear multiple knee ligaments in training camp, while John Urschel, who was competing for the starting center role, decided math was more important than football and retired just before camp opened. Score one for spectral graph theory. There are plenty more injuries on top of that – including QB Joe Flacco, who’s sitting out the preseason with a sore back. But they shouldn’t affect the Ravens too much on Thursday with their bloated exhibition roster.
The Gase That They Gave Me
So how does Adam Gase approach the preseason? We’ve got a short sample size to work with, but Gase told reporters on Tuesday that training camp is “meant to be hard,” and his Dolphins have had more than their share of injuries getting ready for 2017. QB Ryan Tannehill is out with a torn knee; Jay Cutler will reportedly make his Miami debut against Baltimore after being lured out of retirement to replace Tannehill. RBs Jay Ajayi and Kenyan Drake both suffered concussions. OG Ted Larsen is on injured reserve with a torn biceps.
At least Cutler and Gase will be familiar with each other from their time with the Chicago Bears. Cutler had a fine 2015 season with Gase as his offensive coordinator, then imploded after Gase left for Miami. It remains to be seen how much playing time Cutler will get Thursday – maybe he’ll get an extended look after missing the preseason opener. It’s something to think about before auto-betting the Ravens.
As for the moneyline, that’s definitely an option with the Ravens at +2.5, but as we go to press, many of the sportsbooks on our NFL odds board have Baltimore at +3 (-115). That’s a valuable half-point, even if five cents worth of vigorish has been shaved off. Moving from +2.5 to +3 is worth about 21 cents according to the “fair price” list at Wizard of Odds. Given these odds and the injuries on both sides, we’re even more encouraged to recommend the Ravens for Thursday’s preseason NFL picks – for a small wager, in case the Adam Gase-Jay Cutler Era turns out to be a thing.
Free Preseason NFL Pick: Ravens +3 (-115)
Best Line: Bookmaker