|Jaguars at Ravens Point Spread Odds, Trends, Injuries & Matchup|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Wednesday, 24 December 2008 10:25|
One More Win
Baltimore, MD - With a playoff berth at stake, Baltimore is preparing for the Jacksonville Jaguars as it would any other opponent - even though the Ravens' fate could be determined before they take the field.
Seeking to capture the AFC's final wild-card spot, the Ravens play a Jaguars team trying to conclude the season on a positive note on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Oddsmakers from Online Sportsbook Sportsbook.com have made the Ravens –13 point spread favorites for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. Current NFL Public Betting Information shows that 60% of more than 7,210 bets for this game have been placed on the Ravens –13.
Baltimore (10-5) has won eight of its last 10 games, tightening its grip on the No. 6 seed in the AFC by beating Dallas 33-24 last Saturday. The Ravens can secure the spot with a victory over Jacksonville (5-10), though they may already be in the playoffs before the opening kickoff.
The league moved this game to a 4:15 p.m. EST start as part of its flex scheduling. If New England - currently 10-5 - falls at Buffalo earlier Sunday afternoon, the Ravens would also clinch the wild-card spot by virtue of a better conference record than the Patriots.
Despite that possibility, first-year coach John Harbaugh is confident his team views the game as a must-win situation.
"You look at our guys and our football team, and I don't know that we're the type of team that's going to want to go out there and not want to win - no matter what's at stake," Harbaugh said. "If it turns out that not as much is at stake, I'm pretty sure our guys are going to try and win the football game. That's just the personality of our football team."
Jacksonville has dropped five of its last six games and blew an early two-touchdown lead in a 31-24 defeat to Indianapolis on Sunday. Personnel director James Harris resigned Tuesday in what may be a precursor to players and coaches leaving the Jaguars in an offseason overhaul.
"With the way we played last year and then coming back this year and having a below-average season, I didn't think it was going to go as far as Shack, but it has,'' defensive end Paul Spicer said. ``It's affected a lot of guys, a lot of lives, a lot of families. A lot of people's lives have been changed.''
This will be the first time the Jaguars will finish last in the AFC South since the divisions were realigned and a disappointing season following a playoff appearance in 2007.
The Ravens are familiar with the Jaguars' plight, having ended their 2007 season with a victory over playoff-bound Pittsburgh to cap a 5-11 campaign.
"I know they want to win that football game," Harbaugh said. "We know what the expectations were for that team coming into the season. They've obviously had a disappointing season, and that only fuels them more in a game like this."
Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco was again steady for the Ravens, throwing for 149 yards and a touchdown against Dallas, and has 13 TD passes in his last 10 games. He's had the luxury of a consistent running game, which had a season-high 265 yards against Dallas as Le'Ron McClain had a career-high 139 yards and Willis McGahee added 108.
The duo leads Baltimore with 832 and 647 rushing yards, respectively, and has helped Baltimore rank second in rushing at 149.9 yards per game. They will match up against a Jacksonville defense that has conceded a total of 202 rushing yards over its last three games.
Though Jaguars quarterback David Garrard did throw for a season-high 329 yards with a touchdown against the Colts, he took a game-ending sack after getting Jacksonville down to the Indianapolis 7-yard line.
"You can't take a sack on the last play. It's got to be thrown into end zone," coach Jack Del Rio told the Jaguars' official Web site. "He made some great plays (last Sunday). You'd like it to come out of his hand and it either be incomplete or score a touchdown. It just didn't happen."
Running back Maurice Jones-Drew had 91 yards - his best effort since rushing for a season-high 125 in an Oct. 12 win at Denver - and caught seven passes for 71 yards. Aside from leading the Jaguars with 746 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns, Jones-Drew is also second on the team with 555 receiving yards.
Jacksonville is facing a Ravens defense ranked second in total defense at 279.3 yards per game and third in scoring defense (15.8 ppg).
Dennis Northcutt has emerged as Garrard's favorite target recently. Starting for the second straight week in place of Jerry Porter (groin) and Matt Jones (suspension), he made eight catches for 101 yards and touchdown, recording back-to-back 100-yard performances after going nearly four years without one.
The Ravens have won the last four home matchups in the series against the Jaguars, but had a six-game overall winning streak against them snapped in a 30-3 defeat in the most recent meeting in 2005.
Baltimore, which is 5-2 at home, has not allowed more than 13 points in any game at M&T Bank Stadium this season.
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Posted: 12/24/08 3:27PM ET