The Baltimore Ravens just might be one of the best teams in the National Football League. You could make a case that perhaps they should be undefeated, but they had lapses that enabled opponents to overcome big leads. That’s something they really have to work on. As it stands now, they are 5-3 and atop the AFC North Division.
The New Orleans Saints are playing good enough football that they are still in contention for the NFC South title. But maybe that’s not saying much because they have only a 3-5 record. This is not quite a complete squad, and we’re not really sure how the quarterback situation is going to shake out.
These teams will meet on Monday night at the Superdome, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. Eastern time on ESPN.
At BetOnline, the Ravens are the favorites, but only slightly.
Baltimore Ravens -1.5
New Orleans Saints +1.5
Over 46.5 Points -105
Under 46.5 Points -115
Lamar Jackson, who is campaigning for a new contract, has 15 touchdown passes on the season and also 553 rushing yards. Greg Roman, the offensive coordinator for head coach John Harbaugh, put together a pretty good ground game year in and year out, and it is of the plug-and-play variety regarding the running backs. Kenyan Drake is a hot hand at the moment, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. As a team, the Ravens are averaging 5.7. And they have outgained their opponents by a margin of 68 yards per game on the ground.
There is some bad news, however, as Marc Andrews, one of the best tight ends in football, has been ruled out of this game with knee and shoulder problems. You have 488 receiving yards and were also valuable in the slot. His versatility gave Jackson a lot of options.
And don’t underestimate the absence of Rashod Bateman, averaging 19 yards per catch, which generally enables Jackson to stretch a defense. He is out as well.
Rookie Isaiah likely will have to pick up some of the slack for Andrews, and he did pretty well last week, with 77 yards and a touchdown.
Andy Dalton, the journeyman backup, gets the start again for the Saints. He generally runs hot and cold. A couple of weeks ago, on national television, he threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns against Arizona. Kamara, who has seven hundred yards from scrimmage, will be on hand, but his backfield mate, Mark Ingram, will not be. This is a team that averages over 140 yards per game on the ground, and part of that includes Taysom Hill, who has averaged 8.6 yards per carry.
The Saints will also be missing Michael Thomas, who has had a hard time coming back from all his injuries. If you recall, he caught 149 passes in 2019, setting an NFL record. But he’s only played ten games since. Now he has a toe injury, and he won’t be seen for the rest of the year.
We can appreciate some of the assets that the Saints have, including rookie wide receiver Chris Olave, who has 37 catches. But we see this as a game where both teams will try to demonstrate some superiority at the line of scrimmage. And we think the Ravens will be a little better along those lines. So, set your wagers carefully at football betting sites.
The Saints have shown some vulnerability against the run; for example, Atlanta ran for 201 yards against them, and the Seattle Seahawks had 151. Prior to last week’s 24-0 shutout of the Las Vegas Raiders, who had a whole bunch of players ill, they had allowed at least 28 points in the previous four games.
And now Baltimore has a new weapon to throw out there on defense in All-Pro linebacker Roquan Smith, who makes the inside linebacker group much more formidable. Smith was with the Bears, and coming into this week, he was leading the league in tackles. But he couldn’t come together with Chicago on a new contract, so he was sent packing.
Well, that’s good for Baltimore. And we think that with their versatility of Jackson, they can overcome some of these injuries. So we will lay the small number.
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