Ravens And Lions Under Friday Night Lights
By: Willie Bee
Thursday, August 16, 2012
If we learned but one thing about the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens from their preseason openers, it's that both appear to have capable backup quarterbacks. They'll each look to score with their first-team QBs in a battle that is part of a six-pack of NFL preseason games Friday night.
Baltimore opened as 3½-point chalk with that number bet down a point early Thursday morning. Conversely, the total has been pushed up from 37½ to 38½ or even 39 at some shops monitored by the Don Best Pro Odds.
Detroit's preseason debut resulted in a 19-17 loss at home to the Cleveland Browns. The Lions closed laying three at most shops after opening -4½. Cleveland's late field goal to win it hung up a lot of 36-point wagers Matt Stafford was ineffective in his three series while tossing an interception, but the Lions still managed to put a couple of TDs on the board under the guidance of Shaun Hill in relief.
Baltimore put a 31-17 whipping on the Falcons down in Atlanta to get its preseason rolling. The Ravens went from +2½ at opening to +1 at the closing bell, and they nearly matched the 35-point total on their own. The Falcons raced to a 14-zip lead early in the second quarter with Matt Ryan at the helm and finding Felix Jones downfield with relative ease, plus Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers handling the Atlanta ground chores. The Ravens defense was shoddy early and managed to rally against Falcon backups thanks to Curtis Painter's three touchdown tosses in relief of Joe Flacco.
Painter got most of the accolades with the three scoring strikes, but the truth is that Flacco enjoyed a very nice evening from the outset against a porous Falcons secondary, and even former Va Tech star Tyrod Taylor flashed his dual-threat nature as the No. 3 arm in the rotation.
Stafford, on the other hand, might be feeling the need to dazzle a bit more in this game. Not that Shaun Hill is an immediate threat to Stafford's job, just an expectation that he will want to put some points on the board while he's on the clock. It could be an interesting game if a tight score comes down to the third-stringers under center, Taylor and Detroit rookie Kellen Moore who had a rough NFL debut (4-for-14, 1 INT).
One recent injury development for the Lions is defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch. The veteran out of Nebraska injured a knee in practice and was said to be "week-to-week" by head coach Jim Schwartz. Fellow DE Earl Avril is also not expected to play after arriving in camp late following a contract dispute, leaving the Lions light on stop unit ends for this game. Lawrence Jackson and Willie Young, along with free agent pickup Everett Brown from Carolina, should get the bulk of the reps.
Baltimore's thinnest spot is at tight end where neither Ed Dickson nor Dennis Pitta will play. The duo combined for 94 receptions a year ago and may not play this entire preseason while recouping from shoulder and hand injuries respectively.
Baltimore is projected in the 9½-10 win range at various outlets, Detroit down a notch to 9-flat. The Ravens can be fetched for anywhere from 12/1 to 18/1 on Super Bowl futures with the Lions in the 20/1 to 25/1 range.
Detroit and Baltimore are also meeting on the diamond Friday night when the Orioles and Tigers begin a weekend series at Comerica Park and previewed here at Don Best.