Baltimore Ravens (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS) vs. New Orleans Saints (4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NFL Football Week 12
Date and Time: November 24 8:30pm ET
Where: Mercedes-Benz Superdome
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BALT +3/NO -3
Over/Under Total: 50
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Monday Night Football features a 6-4 team against one that is 4-6. One is tied for first in their division while the other sits in third. Pretty normal stuff until you look a little closer to see that the New Orleans Saints at 4-6 are the teams in the better situation than the 6-4 Baltimore Ravens. The NFC South is mess this year but someone is coming out of that division and the Saints can take a big step to securing a playoff spot by taking out the visiting Ravens. No one wants to play in New Orleans every other NFC team is all of sudden rooting for Baltimore this week.
The dome-affect is in effect for this week and the Saints have been installed as three point favorites across nearly all of the online betting sites. Both teams have been good on MNF with the Ravens 4-1 ATS in their last five Monday games and the Saints 5-1 against the spread in their last six Monday Night tilts. Of course, New Orleans is stellar at home with 25 ATS wins in their last 34 home games and Baltimore is just 1-4-1 ATS in their last six as visitors. The over/under for the game is set at 50.
Baltimore is looking for its first quality road win of the season, beating Cleveland and Tampa Bay away from home so far. They have fared worse against Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Indy on the road so a win against the Saints will be a tough trick. Joe Flacco has been a solid captain with 17 touchdowns and Justin Forsett (5.4 YPC) gives Baltimore the ability to be plural on offense. The Ravens are 12th in total yards per game, 10th in rush yards and are 7th in points per game. That production will test a Saints defense that is outside the top-20 in yards and points allowed.
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New Orleans appeared to be on the right track after wins against Green Bay and Carolina but have dropped consecutive contests to San Francisco and Cincinnati to let Atlanta take the division lead by the tiebreaker. The Saints are still one of the best offenses in the league, ranking 3rd in pass yardage, 2nd in total yards and average 26.1 points per game. Drew Brees is putting up numbers (3,071 yards, 19 TD) but not quite as sharp as he has been in recent years and now has to deal with the loss of WR Brandin Cooks who will be out four about a month after injuring his thumb.
The ball will likely be in Brees hands as Baltimore owns the 5th best rush defense in the league. The Saints have been as good a running team as they ever have behind Mark Ingram but this is still a throwing team and Brees wont hesitate to wing it around the dome if the run game is scuffling. The Saints could get Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson back for the game, which would increase the amount of bodies for the Ravens to account for. Of course, look for Jimmy Graham to have a big game. He has 623 yards and seven touchdowns and has performed well at less than 100%. Marques Colston and Kenny Stills will need to pick up the slack in Cooks absence but there are still plenty of weapons for Brees to utilize.
Flacco has some playmakers in his own right and the Ravens will be able to move the ball and score against a defense allowing 25.2 points per game. Justin Forsett is backed by Lorenzo Taliaferro and both backs have seen success in the run and pass game. The duo is closing in on 1,500 combination yards and has nine touchdowns between them. Steve Smith has faded a bit over the last few weeks but has 728 receiving yards, four touchdowns and is making plays each game. Torrey Smith is as mercurial as they come but is one of the best deep-ball receivers in the league and draws plenty of pass-interference penalties when he doesnt come down with the catch. Owen Daniels is the safety-valve for Flacco and rounds out a group of pass catchers that New Orleans will struggle to cover-up entirely.
Even though the Saints control their own destiny, there has to be a bit of desperation in that locker room. They need every win they can get and you can bet they are looking to go undefeated at home for the remainder. Both teams should move the ball without too much trouble so one or two defensive stops might be enough to swing this game for good. The Saints will have to account for Elvis Dumervil as his 10.5 sacks lead the team and are half of the team total. Controlling his impact should leave Brees with plenty of time to find Graham and spread the ball to the backs as well. New Orleans is just a different team at home and looked like the real deal just a few weeks back against the Packers in the dome. Baltimore isnt to that level and a clean game by the Saints should be enough to get this one in the win column. The Ravens will be around until the end but the Saints get the win in this one and the cover. New Orleans 31 Baltimore 23
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: NEW ORLEANS