NFL Point Spread Preview & Free Pick: Ravens vs Cardinals

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Fresh off a tie in Week 1, the Arizona Cardinals will hit the road in Week 2, paying a visit to the Baltimore Ravens. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Fans in the Baltimore, Phoenix, and Louisville markets can watch the game on Fox.

This week’s NFL betting odds list the Ravens as 13.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is listed at 47 points.

Ravens vs Cardinals Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds

The Ravens were on the winning side of the most lopsided game in Week 1, obliterating the Dolphins on the road 59-10. Lamar Jackson couldn’t have started his first full season as the starter any better. He threw for over 300 yards and five touchdowns, as the Ravens got out to a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter and kept piling on from there. Ultimately, they more than tripled the Dolphins in total yards in a downright ugly affair.

Of course, it only counts as one win, and the Ravens can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Between now and the end of October, the Ravens have road games against the Chiefs, Steelers, and Seahawks. The schedule isn’t easy and they need to take full advantage of their home games.

As mentioned, the Cardinals are coming off a tie in Week 1. However, to them, it probably feels more like a win. Arizona trailed Detroit 24-6 early in the fourth quarter before rallying for 18 unanswered points to tie the game and force overtime. On the other hand, the Cardinals led in overtime after kicking a field goal but failed to get the stop they needed to win the game.

The Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray express will now take their act on the road for the first time this season. Like a lot of teams on the west coast, the Cardinals have a bad history of playing early games on the east coast. The good news is that the Cardinals are home for three of their next four games after this week. But they also don’t want to go winless in their first two games of the new era.

Free NFL Pick Against the Spread: Cardinals +13.5

Does anybody actually think the Ravens are as good as the 59-10 scoreline in Week 1 indicates? Yes, they’re good, but that score has a lot more to do with the Dolphins being horrible than the Ravens being good. The Cardinals will still face an uphill battle on Sunday, but this line is a little bloated after Baltimore’s lopsided win last week. I’ll lean toward the Cardinals to keep it within two touchdowns.

Naturally, we’re all in awe of Jackson after an exceptional performance throwing the football against the Dolphins. But I don’t think there’s enough evidence to believe performances like that will become a regular occurrence. The Baltimore offense is still one that’s going to lean heavily on the running game, regardless of whether they try to use Jackson in that capacity or not. Against teams that aren’t the Dolphins, that’s going to shorten games and make it less likely that the Ravens will win in lopsided fashion.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have their own dual-threat at quarterback with Murray. There were plenty of rough moments for the reigning Heisman winner in last week’s game, most notably the first three quarters. But we knew there would be some growing pains with him, and there are reasons to believe that his second start will go a little better. If nothing else, Murray and the Arizona offense finished the game strong, so confidence should be high heading into Week 2.

We have to consider the possibility that Arizona’s late-game surge was no coincidence. It’s possible that the up-tempo offense the Cardinals ran started to tire out the Detroit defense in the fourth quarter, opening the door for Murray to have success and put points on the board. Moreover, Murray and company looked oddly comfortable playing from behind. Even if the Cardinals only score touchdowns in garbage time, those scores still matter against the spread and will make it more difficult for the Ravens to cover.

Meanwhile, it’s a little unfair to assume the Ravens will be dominant on defense this season because of how they handled the Dolphins last week. Miami’s offense is not exactly set up for short-term success. The Ravens, on the other hand, have a lot of new faces on defense, so we can’t just assume that there won’t be growing pains early in the season. Plus, the Cardinals have legitimate playmakers in David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, so I have little doubt that they’ll pose more problems for the Baltimore defense that the Dolphins did.

More than anything else, I don’t want to overreact to Baltimore’s blowout win in Week 1. Remember, the Ravens won 47-3 in Week 1 last year, only to lose the next week. This spread is massive for an NFL game, and I’m not going to overreact to one game. I’ll take my chances with the Cardinals playing another close game and beating the spread.

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