The Ravens, after winning the Hall of Fame Game and flattening the Rams’ junior-varsity squad, are the NFL’s only 2-0 team. Their next test comes against a Colts team that beat the Seahawks in Seattle in Andrew Luck’s triumphant return.
The matchup will combine two of the preseason’s top storylines: Lamar Jackson’s development and Luck’s ability to return to form after a long layoff. Both Jackson and Luck will give their teams extra incentive to play their best, but one team has a streak going that you wouldn’t want to bet against.
Odds: Indianapolis Colts (-1) vs Baltimore Ravens (O/U 40.5)
Luck played two series and threw nine passes against the Seahawks. According to ESPN’s Mike Wells, the plan is for him to play more against Baltimore. Since it was shoulder troubles that have kept Luck out since Week 17 of 2016, it makes sense that the Colts will give him some sort of stress test before Week 1. Indianapolis’ third preseason game against the 49ers is where we’ll most likely see this, but it wouldn’t be crazy to see Luck throw 15 passes against the Ravens. That’s more action than most top quarterbacks would get at this point in the preseason.
Though Luck was the obvious star of the show against Seattle, the Colts defense came to play. After allowing a touchdown to Russell Wilson in the first quarter, they held Seattle’s backups to three points for the remainder of the game. They ought to see plenty of Jackson, whose 39.3 completion percentage is the lowest of any quarterback with at least 15 pass attempts this preseason.
For what it’s worth, the Ravens are in the middle of an unreal preseason winning streak. You have to go way back to their final preseason game of 2015 to find their last loss. They’ve had 10 straight wins since then.
Also working in Baltimore’s favor is a number of talented rookies. Everyone talks about Jackson, but the Ravens picked seven players in the first four rounds of the draft. They won’t be trotting out as many undrafted “no chance” guys when they want to get their highly-drafted rookies up to speed.
The Ravens also have three quarterbacks who are established to some degree. With three former first-round picks taking snaps (Jackson, Joe Flacco and Robert Griffin III) Baltimore’s offense should be in decent hands all night. Even if they play poorly, their floor isn’t as low as some of the quarterbacks we’ll see in the preseason.
This is a tough call considering the young talent on both teams. We covered the Ravens’ early-draft haul, but the Colts are arguably more impressive. They have five players taken in the first two rounds. Both teams have competent preseason quarterbacks who should see plenty of action and defenses that have performed well thus far.
Still, the slight edge goes to the Ravens. They have their winning streak and they’re a more balanced team overall. Plus, we’re getting a point with them. As for the total, it’s an indoor primetime game that should see plenty of decent quarterbacking combined with competent kicking. Take the Ravens and the over.
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