Baltimore Ravens (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New York Jets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS),
7:05 p.m. EST, NFL Week One, Monday, September 13, 2010, New Meadowlands Stadium,
Rutherford, New Jersey
By Scotty L of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Bal +3/NYJ 3
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Two teams pegged to be top contenders in the AFC begin the year facing each other, as the Baltimore Ravens battle the New York Jets. Both teams have a buzz going and look to get off to a quick start. Each team managed it last season, winning their first three games. Both squads also dropped their next three games. But there is a feeling that both teams are rising.
The Jets, coming off a deep playoff run where they lost to the Colts in the conference title game, have high expectations going into the season. Coach Rex Ryan looks to build on a season where they snuck up on a lot of people. Second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez figures to improve on a shaky first campaign. At the same time, he performed maturely in the postseasona sign of great resolve after such a bad second half to the regular season. Offensively, the Jets are banking on two big question marks: does LaDainian Tomlinson still have it and can Braylon Edwards be depended on as a featured ball-catcher? In addition, how big of a hit does their defense take with Darrelle Revis still a holdout?
I think Sanchez will benefit from last years experience and become a more efficient field general who takes better care of the ball. Edwards, in a contract year, should put up some big numbers. Tomlinson, as Charger fans well know, is not the same guy of years past, but is still a steady and dependable guy who will keep the chains moving. But lets face it; this team is all about Rex Ryans defense. The former Ravens defensive coordinator will be able to compensate for the absence of Revis, but it remains to be seen if they will have the same results. Perhaps the return of nose tackle Kris Jenkins, the rise of linebacker David Harris, and the offseason additions of LB Jason Taylor, CB Antonio Cromartie, and first-rounder CB Kyle Wilson can help make up for the loss to their real difference-maker.
The Ravens seem poised to become one of the true AFC standout teams, more so now than since they won Super Bowl glory a decade ago. That defense is still stingy, but their offense, led by offensive mastermind Cam Cameron, is no longer the liability it once was. When QB Joe Flacco is healthy, the offense is versatileable to air it out a bit. With Flacco healthy and with the addition of Anquan Boldin, the Ravens figure to be even better this year. Ray Rice has developed into a top running threat and should keep improving. And Willis McGahee is a nice guy to have around too.
Baltimore has always been about defense and this season should see not letup. Ray Lewis is 35, but can still get it done, as he showed with a good 09 campaign. Ed Reed is tough on quarterbacks and a game changer in the backfield. Lets see how he bounces back from offseason hip surgery. Last season, the Baltimore D only allowed more than 27 points once. Their own offense managed that number 7 times. If Joe Flacco can further blossom, the Ravens will be tough to prevent from making a deep run this year.
There is a bit more hype surrounding the Jets, being in a big city with a charismatic coach and a hotshot young QB. Baltimore, conversely, just quietly goes about their business. More question marks actually seem to surround the Jets. A lot of stars have to line up right for this whole thing to come off. The Ravens, however, have more of steady vibedepending more on players who have more established reliability at this point. Doesnt one or more of the following figure to happen: Tomlinson falls flat, Edwards drops a bunch of balls, Cromartie gets burned a bunch of times, Sanchez suffers from a sophomore jinx, or the absence of Revis turns out to be disastrous.
This game figures to be a bit of a grind. Bettors should note the over/under at a miniscule 36.5. With both teams eating a lot of clock with the ground game and both defenses in better form than the early-season offenses, it should be low scoring. Its nice to be taking points in a game like this, as a field goal could be critical in a game that could very easily end up 19-17 or 14-13.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Spread: Both of these teams are counting on some improvement from their quarterbacks and this might be a tough game for both men. Both offensive lines are good, but will facing menace from all areas. I just see Flacco having a slightly easier time than Sanchez, with Ray Rice getting untracked for a big game. Sanchez will cough the ball up a few times and it will end up making the difference in a tight game. Take the Ravens and the points.