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New Orleans Saints vs. Baltimore Ravens Predictions, Odds, Picks and Preview: 2015-16 NFL Preseason – August 13, 2015

New Orleans Saints vs. Baltimore Ravens Predictions, Odds, Picks and Preview: 2015-16 NFL Preseason – August 13, 2015

If the Hall of Fame preseason game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Minnesota Vikings this past Sunday wasn’t enough to whet your football appetite, well fret no more. The NFL preseason will be in full swing starting this Thursday to sate your pigskin craving.

Among those teams who are kicking-off the festivities are the New Orleans Saints and the Baltimore Ravens, who will get a first look at their respective offseason acquisitions. Read on as we get up-close with what’s in store for these two teams. For more preseason coverage, check out our previews for Dallas Cowboys vs. San Diego Chargers and Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills.

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New Orleans Saints vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD

When: Thursday, August 13, 7:30 PM ET

Line: New Orleans Saints (+3) vs. Baltimore Ravens (-3); Total: 38.0 view all NFL lines

Betting on the New Orleans Saints

In spite of losing Jimmy Graham, the New Orleans Saints will still boast a potent offense for as long as Drew Brees is the team’s starting quarterback. And yet, Brees is already 36 years of age, so we’ll get to see his heir apparent Garrett Grayson in action for the first time.

[sc:NFL240banner ]Grayson was selected by New Orleans in the third round of this year’s draft – the highest QB pick made by the Saints since taking Peyton Manning’s father, Archie, in the second round back in 1971. Grayson broke Colorado State’s school record of 3,696 passing yards in his senior year to go with 23 touchdowns.

Speaking of Graham, tight ends Josh Hill and Ben Watson will fight for the starting spot left by Brees’ former favorite target. Both Watson and Hill had limited production last season mainly due to Graham’s dominance over the starting role. Hill, who is entering just his third year in the league, seems like the wiser choice as a starter for the Saints over 12-year veteran Watson’s experience as a pro.

The New Orleans defense, meanwhile, has a lot of holes to be filled, and the up-and-comers will want to seize the opportunity in turning the Big Easy’s D around this 2015. The departure of Junior Gallette leaves a huge void at linebacker, so first-round pick Stephone Anthony should be up to the task of filling Gallette’s shoes. Anthony will likely be accompanied by fellow rookie Hau’oli Kikaha on the strong side of the linebacking crew. Kikaha tallied 32 sacks over his last two years with the Washington Huskies.

The Saints will also get a first look at their key defensive offseason pickup in Brandon Browner, who had successful stints with Super Bowl champs New England and Seattle. But beyond Browner and last year’s starting corner Keenan Lewis, New Orleans is still rather thin in the secondary. Expect 2014 second-round pick Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Arena League/ CFL journeyman Delvin Breaux to battle for third in the secondary’s pecking order.

Betting on the Baltimore Ravens

Known primarily for their defense, the Baltimore Ravens sure do impose their team’s strength even during the preseason. Last year, the Ravens went undefeated in preseason play as their defense allowed just 13.25 points per game. Baltimore certainly has depth in almost all of its positions on defense, but the loss of Haloti Ngata is certainly an issue.

Making matters worse is that Ngata’s replacement, Timmy Jernigan, will likely be on the sidelines for the first preseason game with a foot injury. The second year defensive lineman out of Florida State played 12 games last season and finished with 23 tackles and four sacks.

Jernigan is not the only upstart who’s sitting out Thursday’s game. Baltimore’s first overall pick from this year’s draft, Breshad Perriman, injured his knee during the first day of training camp. It’s unfortunate that Perriman won’t get any live action, as we have yet to see how the wideout from UCF works out in catching passes from Joe Flacco and backup Matt Schaub.

But enough about injuries, and more about young guns getting their first shots at more intense competition. First-year running back Javorius “Buck” Allen will want to take touches away from second-year brute Lorenzo Taliaferro as Justin Forsett’s reliever in the running game. Allen had 1,489 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the USC Trojans in his final season with the team.

Baltimore’s tight end spot also faces a similar scenario, with second-round pick Maxx Williams from Minnesota wanting to win out over second-year player Crockett Gillmore for the starting nod. In his sophomore and final year as a Golden Gopher, Williams made 36 receptions for 569 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s certainly the more viable midfield threat for Flacco and the Ravens passing game once the regular season rolls along.

Writer’s Prediction

The Ravens exhibit their great depth on defense as they contain the Saints, 17-7.

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Mark
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