Dangerous Underdog in Baltimore: Pick Ravens to Upset Saints

Joe Gavazzi

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 3:43 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2015 3:43 PM UTC

Here's our free NFL pick as the New Orleans Saints visit the Baltimore Ravens to kick off NFL Preseason Week 1. Each team's projected to have a winning season and vie for post-season consideration. 

New Orleans Saints vs. Baltimore Ravens 7:30 ET
The New Orleans Saints visit the Baltimore Ravens to kick off NFL Preseason.  The ball will go in the air at 7:30 ET.  These are a couple of teams from whom much is expected in 2015.  Each is projected to have a winning season and vie for post-season consideration.  Such was not the case last year, when the Baltimore Ravens’ successful season ended after a pair of playoff contests.  For the New Orleans Saints, a 7-9 SU finish was characterized by an 0-5 SU ATS home field slide at a Super Dome home, where they had previously been 19-0 SU, 17-2 ATS.  Based on last year’s results, look for a far hungrier New Orleans team in this preseason lid-lifter!  Each of these coaches has a strong history in preseason football.  Baltimore’s Harbaugh is 19-9 SU, 17-11 ATS in 7 seasons at the helm.  This includes 4-0 SU ATS in 2014 recording every victory by 6 or more points.  On the other sideline is HC Sean Payton.  His Saints have gone 6-2 SU, 7-1 ATS the previous 2 years in preseason.  Unlike the regular season, Payton’s Saints have shined on the road with a 13-3 ATS mark.

Aside from last season’s dichotomous finish, there is plenty of reason for New Orleans motivation in this one!  They took the 0-2 SU ATS collar from Baltimore last season, both on their home field.  In a preseason contest last year, the Ravens won 22-13 in New Orleans.  But, that did not have nearly as much impact as their 34-27 MNF win in New Orleans on November 24th which was the 3rd consecutive week of home losses for the Saints.  That provides further motivational edge for tonight’s visitor.  

As is the case with many preseason Game 1 game plans, do not expect to see much from Baltimore’s starting QB Flacco.  Rather, the load will be carried by reserve QBs, Schaub and Renner.  There will surely be an adjustment phase, however, as the Ravens have enlisted OC Trestman (former Chicago HC) as their 4th different OC in the last 4 years.  Expect a learning curve!  In a similar way for New Orleans, little time will be expected from veteran starter, QB Brees.  Look for backup QB McCown, to get meaningful snaps, along with reserves Grayson and Griffin.  No surprise, however, if the Saints’ defense sees a greater workload.  After allowing just 19 PPG and 301 YPG in 2013, this unit drifted backward to 26/384 in 2014.  That will not sit well with DC Ryan, who will be out to build confidence in this unit from the opening snap.

Though both coaches have a solid history of preseason success, there are meaningful factors in the form of intangibles which favor the Saints in this one.  Expect them to be the far hungrier team and emerge with an outright victory.

NFL Picks: Take New Orleans Saints +145 at The Greek

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