In the NBA, where an 82-game season forces many players and teams to be on autopilot some nights, motivation can play a significant role. But in the NFL, every game is crucial in the short 16-game season. Therefore I don't buy into the theory that teams will play significantly better when they are facing must-win games for playoff positioning late in the season. To me, it is important to focus on the dominant statistical themes that have worked well throughout the season, and not get caught up in the playoff push or draft tank.
A game that features a number of previous themes:
1. The divide between the best teams and the worst teams is just too large.
2. A dominant defense will very easily help a mediocre offense cover a large spread.
3. Home-road splits matter. Baltimore is undefeated at home while Cleveland has only one win on the road.
4. This is the second meeting between these two teams this season, with Baltimore winning 24-10 at Cleveland a few weeks ago. There is no reason to believe the Ravens will win by a smaller margin now that they get to play at home.