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Saints vs. Ravens

Betting Line: Ravens -1 o/u 44

By

John J. Raspanti

12/18/10


The Saints (10-3) come marching into Baltimore (9-4) winners of six in a row. The Super Bowl champions are flying under the radar, winning, but not exactly impressing. They whipped the Rams last weekend, but snuck by Cincinnati 34-30 and Dallas 30-27. They trail the league leading Atlanta Falcons by one game. Offensively they continue to roll, ranking third in the NFC in points scored with 330.

Quarterback Drew Brees is hitting 69 percent of his passes, with 28 touchdowns. Running back Chris Ivory has impressed, averaging over five yards a carry and gaining 683 yards. Wide receiver Marques Colston is Brees favorite target, hauling in 79 passes and scoring seven touchdowns. Lance Moore with 54 catches, and Robert Meachem with 31 are always ready for a Brees pass attempt. Veteran tight end Jerome Shockey has chipped in with 37 catches this season.

Defensively the Saints rank eighth in the league. Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma leads the team with 88 tackles and four sacks. Strong safety Roman Harper has collected 81 tackles, while defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis has a team leading five sacks.

Baltimore needs this game to keep the pressure on the Steelers, who they trail by one game in the AFC North division. Thirty-five year linebacker Ray Lewis continues to lead the Ravens. The crusty old linebacker has recorded an astounding 108 tackles and two sacks. Safety Dawan Landry has 81 tackles while defensive tackle Terrell Suggs has 9 sacks.  

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Offensively, Baltimore's quarterback Joe Flacco is having the best season of his career. Flacco has completed sixty-two percent of his throws with 21 of them going for touchdowns. Twenty three year old running back Ray Rice has rushed for 898 yards. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has snagged a team leading 59 passes, while veteran Derrick Mason has caught 53. Always dependable Todd Heap has 37 catches for 546 yards.

The Saints are catching fire at the right time. Defeating Baltimore on the road could set a good tone for the stretch run. To win, the Ravens defense needs to play their best game of the season. Joe Flacco and his teammates need to execute and not turn the ball over. The Ravens need points and turnovers to win this game. New Orleans has lost only one game on the road this season.

This is a matchup between two teams worthy of a trip to the Super Bowl. They are both among the best the NFL has to offer. Teams play all year to first make the playoffs and then to gain home field advantage. It's that home field advantage, plus a little desperation, that has us backing the Ravens here. The Ravens need to learn how to finish games. They have let teams back into games all year. They had the Steelers on the ropes and blew the game. They almost let the Texans back in. No better time like the present.

Our number has the Ravens by one on a neutral field. The home field is the difference here. Ravens -1. The Under 44 may be worth a look here as well.
 

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