Saints-Ravens Betting Preview: How to Bet the Best Offense vs. the Best Defense

Saints-Ravens Betting Preview: How to Bet the Best Offense vs. the Best Defense article feature image

USA Today Sports. Pictured: Drew Brees, Terrell Suggs

Betting odds: New Orleans Saints at Baltimore Ravens

  • Spread: Ravens -2.5
  • Over/Under: 50
  • Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX

>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: This line has moved to Baltimore -3 at a couple of books, but for no longer than a few minutes. For the most part, it’s been stuck at 2.5 with 56% of bettors taking the potent Saints over the stingy Ravens as of writing (see live data here).

The over/under is seeing a reverse split of 56% of bets on the over, but 64% of dollars on the under, which has helped drop it from 51 to 50 since opening. Mark Gallant

Trends to know: The Saints enter this matchup off their Week 6 bye. Over his career, Drew Brees is 11-5 straight-up and 12-4 against the spread with at least two weeks to prepare for a game, including the playoffs. Evan Abrams

Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 7-3 SU and 5-3-2 ATS when facing an opponent that’s coming off a bye. –John Ewing

While the Chiefs are the betting toast of the town at 6-0 ATS, it’s actually the Ravens who have the largest cumulative net ATS margin (+59). Stuckey

Did you know? The Ravens are 5-1 ATS in the second halves of games and have yet to allow a second-half touchdown, which no other team has done that in its first six games since the 1970 merger.

The Ravens have outscored their six opponents 62-15 in the second half, and three of those 15 points against came in their overtime loss to the Browns. That means they’re giving up less than a field goal per second half on average.

That’s even more impressive in a season that’s setting all types of scoring records.Stuckey

This second-half dominance really isn’t anything new for Harbaugh. Since he took over as head coach in 2008, Baltimore is 95-76-9 (+13.7 units) against the second-half spread, making him the second-most profitable coach behind only Pete Carroll (+21.7 units).

If the Ravens happen to be down at the half this Sunday, they’re 39-22-4 against the second-half spread when trailing at the half under Harbaugh, making him the most profitable coach in that spot since 2008. Abrams

Metrics that matter: The Ravens own the No. 1 defense in terms of points per drive (1.05) while the Saints have the No. 1 offense (3.46) in that same category.

Something has to give on Sunday. Stuckey

Biggest mismatch: Saints Run Defense vs. Ravens Run Offense

There hasn’t been a better team against the run this season than the Saints. They’re No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA vs. the run, in Adjusted Line Yards and in yards allowed at the second level.

I would say practicing against Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram has paid off, though that hasn’t exactly worked out for the Saints’ pass defense. But I digress.

Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ravens running back Alex Collins

The Ravens’ rushing attack, meanwhile, has stumbled to a 21st-place ranking in DVOA and a 22nd-place ranking in Adjusted Line Yards. Alex Collins has cleared 4.0 yards per carry only once in six games, while Javorius Allen is sitting at a ghastly 2.8 for the season. Chris Raybon

Which team is healthier? Ravens

The Ravens could be without starting guard Alex Lewis (neck), but should otherwise be near full strength.

Meanwhile, Brees will have to rely on wide receivers Tre’Quan Smith and Cameron Meredith with Ted Ginn Jr. (knee, injured reserve) out for at least the next eight weeks. Brees hopes to have starting guards Larry Warford (back) and Andrus Peat (head) available, though neither practiced on Thursday.

Note: Info as of 6 p.m. ET Thursday. See our Injury Dashboard for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff. — Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: The Browns shadowed John Brown with fourth-overall pick Denzel Ward in Week 5 and the Titans had 2017 first-round pick Adoree’ Jackson travel with Brown in Week 6.

I expect the Saints to follow suit and use their No. 1 cornerback to track Brown, who joins Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins as the only wide receivers with more than 900 air yards this season. It’s not the easiest matchup for Smokey, as Pro Football Focus has graded Marshon Lattimore as the league’s 16th-best full-time cornerback from Weeks 2-6 since he was eviscerated by Mike Evans in Week 1.

This is good news for Michael Crabtree and revenge-game minded Willie Snead, who will each see plenty of No. 2 cornerback Ken Crawley and slot corner P.J. Williams — two of PFF’s bottom-10 defensive backs this season among 111 qualified players. Hartitz

Bet to watch: Under 50

The best defense in the league will clash against the best offense in the league.

A +24% bets vs. dollars differential has dropped the total down to 50, and I’m in agreement. I think this would be a solid play regardless, but what makes it my favorite play is the weather.

Winds between 12 and 16 mph will be swirling in Baltimore, which should impact any long passes and field-goal attempts. Gallant

The Ravens have only closed with a total of 50 or higher once with Joe Flacco starting at M&T Bank Stadium: in 2015 against the Chargers. So this total is historically high for the situation. The Ravens have leaned to the under at home with Flacco (55.6%, 8.7% return on investment), too.

As Mark noted above, wind is expected to be a large factor. When Flacco starts at home with an average wind of 5 mph or higher, the under is 28-16 (63.6%, 24.6%), including 11-2 with an average greater than 10 mph. In those 13 games, opponents have averaged only 12.1 points.

I would be hard-pressed to not again mention the incredible second-half defense Baltimore has played. In addition to not allowing a second-half touchdown, the defense has allowed less than 20 net yards per drive, which is the best in the NFL by more than five yards.

Opponents’ 36 total second-half drives (tied for fifth most in the league) have started with the Ravens leading by an average of 9.6 points, which is the NFL’s highest lead in that spot.Abrams

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.