NFL Betting: Broken Ravens Unprepared For Preseason Glory

Baltimore Ravens

Jason Lake

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 2:29 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 2:29 PM UTC

The Baltimore Ravens are usually a solid NFL pick during the preseason, but injuries could limit their success Thursday when they host the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina Panthers vs Baltimore Ravens  
And our first NFL pick of the 2016 season is... no action. Sunday's Hall of Fame Game between the Green Bay Packers and the Indianapolis Colts was cancelled. Good Lord, you'd think this league was being run by incompetent buffoons or something. So we move our attention to Week 1 of the preseason, and Thursday's game (7:30 p.m. ET) between the Carolina Panthers and the Baltimore Ravens.

Assuming they play this time. There's a 25-percent chance of thunderstorms over Baltimore, so who knows. But the Ravens are 1.5-point favorites on our NFL odds board as we go to press, with 53-percent of early bettors on the home side. There's also a 36.5-point total on the board. Let's gaze into the crystal prolate spheroid and see what we can come up with.


Pictures at an Exhibition
A quick reminder for those who didn't bother reading the Hall of Fame Game preview: We're looking at the preseason records for the two head coaches in question, and we're looking at the quarterback depth for the respective clubs. Let's start with the coaches:

Ron Rivera, Panthers: 11-9 ATS, OVER 10-10
John Harbaugh, Ravens: 19-13 ATS, OVER 16-16

Guess we're not going to make any picks on the total. Both coaches have broken even in that regard, but when it comes to the spread, Harbaugh has had more success than Rivera. Which suits our larger contrarian approach just fine. We expect the Ravens to be undervalued in general, and the Panthers to be overvalued coming off their Super Bowl appearance. But mostly, we expect Harbaugh to keep doing what he's been doing in the preseason.


Detachable QBs
Moving right along, here's how the QB depth charts look at press time, according to Rotoworld:

Panthers: Cam Newton, Derek Anderson, Joe Webb
Ravens: Joe Flacco, Ryan Mallett, Josh Johnson, Jerrod Johnson

Must... avoid... multiple Johnsons joke. The Panthers are set up quite nicely here; Newton will play at least one series, and maybe more if Rivera likes what he sees. Anderson (84.8 passer rating) and Webb (100.1 rating) both played well in the 2015 preseason – and the year before that, as well. They're comfortable in Carolina's system.

Is anyone comfortable with Mallett? He may or may not start Thursday's game; Harbaugh will not divulge whether or not Flacco will play, which already speaks volumes about how seriously Harbaugh is taking this game. This is the preseason, after all. Coaches are supposed to be up front with the press about what the plan is – ah, who am I kidding. Media relations will never be the same.

Here's our best guess. Flacco is recovering from a torn ACL, so he'll put in one series, tops. The other three quarterbacks will be playing their first preseason game for the Ravens; Jerrod Johnson hasn't played a snap since 2012, and Josh Johnson has reportedly been outperforming Mallett in camp. Add all those Ravens injuries heading into Week 1, and we're not too keen on their chances Thursday.

Free NFL Pick: Panthers -1.5 –102
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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