Ravens Take a Tumble on NFL Futures Market

ERF-482_BOS_NFL Futures_August 8_Article 1We knew it would be difficult for the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Super Bowl odds and repeat as champions. But do they belong in the same category as would-be contenders such as the Dallas Cowboys?
That’s the way the Superbowl lines stand as we get ready for the 2013 campaign. When we first checked in on our defending champions, the Ravens were firmly among the first tier of Super Bowl XLVIII contenders at 14/1. The NFL futures market has been busy since then. Baltimore has tumbled all the way to 25/1 as we go to press, tied with the Cowboys and falling behind a pair of teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year: the New Orleans Saints (18/1) and the New York Giants (22/1).
It’s understandable that the Ravens have become Super Bowl online betting pariahs. The NFL enforces parity through the salary cap, and thanks to QB Joe Flacco’s new $120-million contract, Baltimore’s cap space has shrivelled up worse than your girlfriend’s angora sweater that you accidentally threw in the dryer in wash day. Then the NFL handed the Ravens one of the toughest schedules in the league for 2013, including their September 5 season opener on the road against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (6/1).
This isn’t just the betting public setting the Super Bowl odds, either. Professional handicappers have a lot of love for the Broncos, who are tied with the San Francisco 49ers as co-favorites to win the 2014 Super Bowl. As for the Ravens, sharps are pointing at the unimpressive statistics Baltimore posted last year en route to a 10-6 SU, 6-9-1 ATS regular season – not to mention the retirement of LB Ray Lewis and the departures of safeties Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard, among others.
The sharps know what they’re talking about; that’s how they beat the Superbowl betting odds year after year. However, they also know a good bargain when they see one. If you’re looking for a Superbowl betting tip, consider that the Ravens are now available at discount prices – and the champs suddenly don’t look so bad, especially compared to the likes of Dallas (8-8 SU, 6-10 ATS last year).
Baltimore’s regular-season stats (No. 13 in offensive efficiency, No. 19 on defense) weren’t even that troubling when you consider who was on the field. The key for the Ravens defense isn’t any of the three guys we’ve already mentioned – it’s LB Terrell Suggs, the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year who missed half the 2012 season recovering from injuries. Including the playoffs, Baltimore was 8-3-1 ATS last year with Suggs on the field and 2-6 ATS without.
As for Lewis, Reed and Pollard, the Ravens have done more than just patch those holes. First-round draft pick Matt Elam (Florida Gators) and former first-rounder Michael Huff (Oakland Raiders) are pencilled in as the starting safeties; veterans Elvis Dumervil (Broncos) and Daryl Smith (Jacksonville Jaguars) have been added to the linebacker corps, and CB Lardarius Webb is on track to face Denver in Week 1 after tearing his ACL and missing the second half of the 2012 season.
It’s still a tall task for Baltimore to repeat. But if you’re going to bet on the Super Bowl with value in mind, the Ravens are looking tastier and tastier the more their Super Bowl odds plummet.