In what is a crucial game in dictating the outlooks of both the Ravens` and Rams` 2011 campaigns, the two teams will do battle in Week 3 NFL action. Baltimore looked abysmal in a tough loss on the road last week to Tennessee. Their defense, often heralded as one of the top units in the league was manhandled by aging quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, and have their sights squarely focused on taking their frustrations out against a shaky St. Louis Rams squad. After looking so dominant against the former AFC champions in the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1, the Ravens defense yielded a staggering 432 yards in the second week of action, and desperately need their depleted secondary to get healthy against the dangerous Sam Bradford.
The Rams also endured their fair share of struggles in Week 2. Playing at New York on Monday Night Football, the Rams sputtered in the spotlight, and put together a futile performance in what looks like it could be a long season for head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Like the Ravens, the Rams too have a lengthy injury list, most notably missing prime offensive weapons Danny Amendola and Steven Jackson, both of whom are expected to sit out yet again. With such a depleted line-up for the second straight week, it will be a huge task for the young Bradford to will his team to victory against a Ravens squad desperately seeking a return to the win column.
SPREAD & TOTAL:
Baltimore Ravens -4 (-110) @ St. Louis Rams +4 (-110)
Over 42.5 (-110) & Under 42.5 (-110)
Despite the line-makers originally setting this game at 3.5 points in favour of the visiting Ravens, the uncertainty in health within the Rams’ camp has certainly forced the half-point adjustment. Last week the Ravens were a hugely public play with a staggering amount of wagers placed on them against the Titans, and expect a situation similar to unfold here. If you like the Ravens minus in the points in this one, it might be a good idea to bet them early and often before Sunday’s adjustments when the doubtful and questionable statuses, turn to in-actives.
RAVENS vs. RAMS PICK:
To put it mildly, the Rams have simply not played good football through the first two weeks of the season. Heading into the 2011 campaign, they were slated to be the odds-on favourites to be the class of the NFC West, however two less than impressive outings have left supporters shaking their heads. Sure their rash of injuries has hampered their ability to win football games, but I don’t like their chances here facing a hungry Ravens squad coming off a humbling Week 2 performance. The losses of both Steven Jackson and highly-targeted wide receiver Danny Amendola have left the inexperienced Bradford searching for playmakers. Rookie wide-out Greg Salas clearly isn`t ready for primetime, and expect the former Oklahoma star to face a ferocious attack from the Ravens all afternoon.
Expect Baltimore to cover the 4 points in this one fairly easily. The Rams are the worst teams in the entire NFL against the run, giving up 177 yards per game. Of course, the Ravens are blessed with one of the premier backs in football in Ray Rice. Look for Rice to have a field day against a porous Rams front-seven, and bolster his already impressive totals on the year. Baltimore is also slated to receive key cornerback Chris Carr back from a concussion, in what should be a crucial addition as they look to steady their secondary and pass defense. The Ravens under Jim Harbaugh have been known for bouncing back after tough losses, and recently hold a 4-1 record coming off losses in which they were favoured. Look for that trend to continue come Sunday, and back the Ravens minus the points.
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