New Orleans Saints (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Thursday, August 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The line: Baltimore Ravens -3. Total: 37.5.
The New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens will be part of preseason football’s opening day when they hit the field on Thursday, Aug. 13 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. New Orleans missed the playoffs last season and now quarterback Drew Brees is without longtime tight end Jimmy Graham.
Change is gonna come
The face of the franchise is still there, but the New Orleans Saints are heading into the 2015 campaign with a somewhat new-look roster. No longer is Drew Brees throwing to Jimmy Graham and the defense has undergone a considerable overhaul. Graham was famously shipped off to the Seattle Seahawks in a seismic move that sent shockwaves through the NFL and landed the Saints more protection for Brees (center max Unger). New Orleans released Junior Galette and Brodrick Bunkley this offseason. They signed or drafted a whole host of defensive line role players, including 34-year-old veteran Kevin Williams (went to six Pro Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings). It sounds like Cameron Jordan will play on the edge more often than he did last year when he sometimes lined up at tackle.
On the run
Marc Trestman may be known as a pass-first offensive coordinator, but don’t expect him to let Joe Flacco air it out with reckless abandon this season. Something will have to give because few teams have thrown it more than those coached by Trestman (either as a head or a coordinator) during his 12 NFL seasons, while only the New York Jets have run it with more frequency than the Baltimore Ravens (29.6 attempts per game) since John Harbaugh became head man in 2008. Justin Forsett rushed for 1,266 yards and eight scores on just 235 carries in 2014 as the post-Ray Rice era began in Baltimore. Lorenzo Taliaferro looks like a more-than-capable backup.
“Ravens football starts with the running game, and that doesn’t mean you’re not going to throw the ball,” Trestman said Sunday. “But the emphasis here is we want to be a great running football team and we have the players to do that. So that’s where we start.”
The New Orleans Saints are:
2-6 ATS in their last eight overall
0-5 ATS in their last five games on fieldturf
1-4 ATS in their last five Thursday games
The Baltimore Ravens are:
5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between the two teams
1-4 O/U in their last five home games
1-4-1 O/U in their last six games overall
The Baltimore Ravens are no stranger to preseason success. They went 4-0 last year and had the best point differential (+42) of any team that went undefeated prior to the real thing. With a team largely identical to that of 2014, Baltimore should not be enduring much of an adjustment period relative to other squads at this point in the summer. The New Orleans Saints, on other hand, are tinkering with moving parts. No team is a well-oiled machine right now, but the Ravens are the closer one of these two–on both sides of the ball. Pick: Baltimore Ravens -3.