Odds are out for the biggest and best games of the upcoming NFL season. Covers Expert Bruce Marshall gives you his insight into some of these marquee matchups and predicts where the odds could move before kickoff.
NFL Week 15: Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions (+1)
Past history: The teams split SU and ATS results in their last two meetings, played in 2005 and 2009. Both of those games went over the total as well. Both coaches (Baltimore’s John Harbaugh and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz) were on the job when the Ravens won the last meeting by a 48-3 score at M&T Bank Stadium in 2009.
Early look at the Ravens: We’ll see if the subtle adjustment made by offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell, allowing QB Joe Flacco more audible freedom after Cam Cameron’s December dismissal, keeps Flacco soaring as he was late last season when tossing 15 touchdowns and only one pick in the last seven games during the Ravens’ Super Bowl run. The gnarly defense has lost some familiar names (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger), but respected tactician Dean Pees should still be able to scheme effectively with a more versatile group of playmakers augmented by free-agent addition LB/DE Elvis Dumervil and a collection of well-regarded rookies featuring hard-hitting S Matt Elam (Florida) and LB Arthur Brown (Kansas State).
Early look at the Lions: By this point in the season, we should have a good idea if the under-fire Schwartz is going to be able to save his job. Or, if things have already gone pear-shaped at Ford Field, as they did a year ago when mental mistakes were rampant and morale was low, Schwartz could have walked the plank by this point. Detroit thinks it has enough offense to get back into the playoff mix, especially after the offseason addition of RB Reggie Bush. How defensive coordinator. Gunther Cunningham successfully juggles his stop unit personnel mix will be key. Top draft picks DE Ziggy Ansah and CB Darius Slay, plus free-agent addition FS Glover Quin, need to make immediate contributions.
Where this line will move: The oddsmakers have built in a slight downgrade for the Ravens, while anticipating a recovery from last year’s collapse by the Lions. Both notions could be flawed. Almost the entire regular season will have been played by this point and remember that each of Harbaugh’s first five Baltimore teams have not only made the playoffs but also won a game in the postseason. If the Ravens don’t dip as much as some believe, and the Lions continue on their self-destructive path, it’s easy to see this number moving considerably in Baltimore’s direction. At the moment, the tenuous situation involving Schwartz would seem to make Detroit a very risky future proposition as the season progresses.