The Super Bowl favourites face off on Monday as the Baltimore Ravens host the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle of reigning MVPs. Ben Steele picks his best bets...
Ingram will turn 31 this season, and has seen both Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins take over some of his rushing responsibility but when it comes to the key moments, it is always Ingram in the backfield for Baltimore.
Third time lucky for Jackson against Mahomes
The Baltimore Ravens, led by MVP Lamar Jackson are currently 5/1 favourites to win the Super Bowl this year and when you look at the stats it isn't hard to see why.
Head Coach John Harbaugh's team are unbeaten in 14 straight regular season games and set multiple records in 2019. In 2020 Jackson has gone head to head with Cleveland's Baker Mayfield and Houston's Deshaun Watson, comfortably beating both. However, Week 3 is the first time Lamar Jackson will face a shootout with a player who can make legitimate claims to be being a better quarterback than him.
Patrick Mahomes has faced the Ravens, and Jackson, twice in his career and has picked up the win in both but this may be the year that run ends. Mahomes' unpredictability in the passing game will make him a real challenge but the Ravens defensive front, led by Calais Campbell will fancy their chances of containing him on Monday.
With rookie linebacker Patrick Queen adding speed at the second level and former Kansas City man Marcus Peters proving to be a true shutdown cornerback, the Ravens defence has similar qualities to the Los Angeles Chargers unit who gave Mahomes a decent amount of trouble in Week 2.
While Mahomes can make every type of throw it is Jackson's ability in the running game that sets him apart in this one. Jackson has been excellent throwing the ball this year (four touchdowns and just 11 incompletions) but it is his ability on the ground that makes him a nightmare for defenders. When the Ravens get in to the redzone it is incredibly difficult for opposing defences to account for all of Baltimore's offensive weapons, meaning they often have to leave Jackson unaccounted for, which is when he punishes them.
The Ravens love to run the ball and I'm backing Jackson to have over 60.5 rushing yards on Monday night.
Similar schemes rely on tight ends often
Powered by Mahomes and Jackson, both teams have been able to build formidable offences over the last few years and while the quarterbacks are very different the offences that they play in are surprisingly similar. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill (Chiefs) and Marquise Brown (Ravens) both adopt the role of the speedster responsible for stretching the field but it is the tight ends that are the key.
Travis Kelce (pictured) is arguably the best in the game, a dominant force who seems to have a telepathic connection with his quarterback. More often than not, Mahomes is looking for Kelce when he drops back to pass and with Hill providing the space, he is often open, scoring in both games this season already. With the Ravens secondary particularly talented at shutting down wide receivers the reliance on Kelce will be all the more obvious this time out, at 11/10 he's a good price to score. As is his Ravens opposite number, Mark Andrews.
The former Oklahoma Sooner is undoubtedly Lamar Jackson's favourite target, and while not as talented as Kelce there is a decent argument that he is still a top 3 player at his position. Like Kelce, Andrews has found the endzone twice this season and with Baltimore looking to run an offensive scheme centred on ball control Andrews will heavily involved again this week. At 6/5 to score anytime he's certainly worth a look.
A Same Game Multi of both tight ends to score is priced up at 5.02 and I'm very confident of that one.
Veteran Ingram provides the difference
Running back Mark Ingram plays multiple roles in Baltimore. He is a veteran presence on an offensive group that features a number of talented youngsters, he is Lamar Jackson's press conference hype-man and he is a multi talented back capable of controlling a game.
Last year, Ingram scored three times in Baltimore's loss to Kansas City and he will be looking to add to that total on Monday night. Ingram and Jackson have a great relationship, consistently running option plays to perfection and attacking opposing defences with ferocity. Ingram will turn 31 this season, and has seen both Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins take over some of his rushing responsibility but when it comes to the key moments, it is always Ingram in the backfield for Baltimore.
I'm backing a Same-Game Multi of Ingram to score and have over 50.5 rushing yards in a Baltimore win at 7/24.4.
Ben Steele NFL P/L 2020/21 Season:
Staked: 9 points
Returned: 8.2 points
P/L: -0.8 points
Back Lamar Jackson to have Over 60.5 rushing yards @ 5/6
Back Travis Kelce to score a touchdown @ 6/5
Back Mark Andrews to score a touchdown @ 6/5
Same Game Multi: Back Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce to score a touchdown @ 5.02
Same Game Multi: Mark Ingram to score a touchdown, have over 50.5 rushing yards and Baltimore Ravens to win @ 4.4