The “Win One For The Gipper” types will almost surely be on the Ravens -7 against the Bengals tonight after the team’s owner, Art Modell, passed away at age 87.
John Harbaugh was reportedly bedside with Modell when he died and promised to deliver a victory.
From the team’s official website:
Coach Harbaugh kissed Art and began talking. Art’s eyes opened wide. “I told him how much I loved him. How much the players loved him. I assured him that he would see the best of us Monday night.”
Public bettors will see those words and pile money on the Ravens hand over fist. They’ll read the quote (“I assured him”) and believe that, “Yes, the Ravens will be inspired to victory! And on and on.
Truth is, the Ravens might win, but for a different reason.
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John Harbaugh has had extra time to prepare for an opponent eight times in his brief coaching career. In those games, which consist of both season openers and bye weeks, Harbaugh is a perfect 8-0 straight up and against the spread and covers by an average of 12 points per game.
Offensively, his teams have scored 26 points or more in five of eight games. Defensively, his teams have allowed an average of 11.3 points and have held six opponents to 10 points or less.
Here’s a breakdown of Harbaugh’s games with “extra” time:
- Baltimore -1 vs. Pittsburgh … 35-7 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore +1 vs. NY Jets … 10-9 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore -13 vs. Kansas City … 38-24 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore +1 vs. Cincinnati … 17-10 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore -7 vs. Houston … 29-14 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore -5 vs. Miami … 26-10 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore -4.5 vs. Denver … 30-7 win (ATS win)
- Baltimore -1 vs. Cleveland … 28-10 win (ATS win)
If we threw in “mini byes”—games following a Thursday night tilt—Harbaugh’s record would improve to 10-0 straight-up and ATS.
We don’t advise making a play entirely based on a short-term coaching trend. However, it’s worth noting that there’s plenty of reason to be skeptical of this year’s Bengals team.
Cincinnati snuck up on teams in 2011 (started 6-2) but fell apart late (finished 3-5) and beat zero playoff teams. Five of their nine wins came against the Browns (twice), Jaguars, Colts and Rams—four of the league’s worst teams.
The Bengals played six games against the league’s four best defenses (including the Ravens) last year and went 0-6. Their scoring output was 8, 17, 24, 7, 19 and 16, an average of 15 points per game.
Bottom line: It’s a scary bet at -7, but if the Ravens fall below a touchdown we believe it’s worth a play.