Ravens could be formidable postseason foe thanks to defense
There are some folks in the AFC who shudder at the thought of facing the Ravens’ defense in the playoffs.
That’s understandable, given Baltimore’s propensity for takeaways (league-high 33) and its turnover margin (plus-17). That the offense is substandard tends to get ignored a bit, particularly if Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Matthew Judon are in an opposing quarterback’s face all day.
Should the Ravens (8-6) win out, something they have a very strong chance of doing by facing Indianapolis on Saturday, then Cincinnati to close the schedule, they could be a formidable foe in January.
Baltimore is 58-20 at home during the regular season in coach John Harbaugh’s 10-year run, including 15-7 in December. The Colts (3-11) are one of the league’s worst teams, ravaged by injuries and insufficient talent. They are 1-6 on the road.
Baltimore (No. 11 in AP Pro32) is a 10 1-2 point choice over Indy (No. 30). Could be a shutout.
KNOCKOUT LEAGUE TIP
The Saints came through for those still alive, and the best team we have left is CAROLINA.
No. 14 Seattle (plus 3 1-2) at No. 13 Dallas
Cowboys are coming on, Zeke is back, Seahawks are reeling.
BEST BET: COWBOYS, 27-20
No. 31 New York Giants (plus 3 1-2) at No. 22 Arizona
Not with a lot of conviction, but we have to pick one …
UPSET SPECIAL: GIANTS, 19-17
No. 18 Green Bay (plus 8 1-2) at No. 3 Minnesota, Saturday
Vikings touting idea of playing in as well as hosting Super Bowl.
No. 9 Atlanta (plus 5 1-2) at No. 6 (tie) New Orleans
Winner clinches playoff berth, adds strength to its NFC South standing.
No. 28 Tampa Bay (plus 10) at No. 6 (tie) Carolina
Dangerous Panthers are in playoffs with victory.
No. 5 Los Angeles Rams (minus 4) at No. 16 Tennessee
Titans playing at their worst just when they need to be good.
No. 8 Jacksonville (minus 5) at No. 23 San Francisco
Jaguars secure AFC South, but Jimmy G makes it tight.
No. 21 Miami (plus 9) at No. 10 Kansas City
AFC West belongs to Chiefs, despite midseason hiatus.
No. 17 Los Angeles Chargers (minus 8 1-2) at No. 24 (tie) New York Jets
AFC wild card still in reach, though Chargers need help.
No. 15 Buffalo (plus 12) at No. 1 New England
Last team Bills needed to see while still in wild-card contention.
No. 2 Pittsburgh (minus 7 1-2) at No. 27 Houston, Monday
Santa’s gift to Steelers fans: more Terrible Towels to wave.
No. 20 Oakland (plus 7) at No. 4 Philadelphia, Monday
Santa’s gift to Eagles fans: home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs.
No. 12 Detroit (minus 3) at No. 26 Cincinnati
Bengals have mailed it in, Lions still in chase.
No. 24 (tie) Denver (plus 3 1-2) at No. 19 Washington
Broncos have won two straight. They were against Jets and Colts.
No. 32 Cleveland (plus 7) at No. 29 Chicago
We know what you want. Pro Picks got it right in Week 15 of 2016. Sorry …
Last week: Against spread (8-6-1). Straight up (13-3)
Season Totals: Against spread (104-102-9). Straight up: (141-81)
Best Bet: 9-6 against spread, 10-5 straight up.
Upset special: 9-6 against spread, 9-6 straight up
For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL