The new NFL season is a little over two weeks away and among the fascinating pre-season warm-up games in the next few days is this clash between two serious play-off contenders.
Tough Season Ahead for the Ravens
Baltimore enjoyed an unexpectedly good regular season last time, winning the AFC North Division for the first time in six years, thanks to the heroics of rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. But come the play-offs, Jackson was found out by the LA Chargers, and if he is to improve on last season’s finish, he will need to add new elements to his game. He will also have to cope with one of the NFL’s weakest offensive lines, and the departure of Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith means that the defense is also likely to be less effective than last season.
Philadelphia In Contention
Many pundits were predicting that the Eagles would fall away last season after their 2018 Super Bowl triumph, and when they stumbled to a 6-7 record, those predictions seemed justified. But Nick Foles led them to the Wild Card game, where they beat Chicago before eventually losing to the Saints. There’s no Foles this time round, but Carson Wentz has the potential to take them deep into the play-offs, while the offense looks stronger than it did a year ago. If they can avoid the disastrous string of injuries that hampered them last season, they will surely be serious contenders again.
Ravens Look like Weak Favourites
Predicting pre-season games can be a risky business, but there will be plenty of punters willing to take on the Ravens at their current odds. They are 12/25 favourites for this one, while the Eagles are available at 51/25. The Ravens have won both of their pre-season games so far, but they were home games, and the Eagles, who warmed up for this with a solid win in Jacksonville, will be confident of showing something like their best form at Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday.
Given that the Eagles are fifth favourites at 14/1 in the Super Bowl 2020 betting, compared to odds of 33/1 for the Ravens, there could be some appeal in backing an Eagles win.