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The NFL preseason odds are ready and raring to go, and on Thursday night, ESPN will have a duel for NFL betting fans to dig into when the Baltimore Ravens play host to the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina Panthers @ Baltimore Ravens (-3.5)
Thursday, August 12th
8:00 ET, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Carolina Notes: The Panthers are going to have a heated battle for the starting quarterback position to sort out over the next month before the regular season gets underway. It seems as though Matt Moore is going to have the inside edge, as he finished the regular season last year as the signal caller for the team. Expect both Hunter Cantwell and Tony Pike to get reps late in the game, but the other serious contender for the starting job is Jimmy Clausen, a rookie out of Notre Dame. Regardless of who the man is taking snaps, working out with the wide receivers could be a tough task. Names like Dwayne Jarrett, Armanti Edwards, and Brandon LaFell are going to get plenty of work, but without Steve Smith in the lineup, there are going to be some inevitable miscommunications. With both RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart already knowing their roles as split running backs, there will probably be plenty of carries for reserves Mike Goodson and Tyrell Sutton. The Panthers also have a major problem to address at defensive end, where DE Julius Peppers has vacated his role through free agency. Needless to say, HC John Fox has plenty to try to work out before this season gets underway, and the end result could be a long preseason of going through growing pains with a newly shaped roster.
Baltimore Notes: The Ravens should be raring and ready to go this week, though. Starting QB Joe Flacco has looked sharper and sharper every time he touches the football, and this preseason should be no exception. The former Delaware Blue Hen will also love the fact that he has a bunch of new targets to throw to, the biggest of which is WR Anquan Boldin. Backup QB Marc Bulger is trying to redefine his career, and he'll be doing so as the man playing behind Flacco. Third string QB Troy Smith has looked fantastic in preseasons of past, and he is going to try his best to prove his value as a potential starter should anything happen to Flacco. An experienced starting offensive line shouldn't see too many reps this week, nor will most of the skill players on offense. Instead, expect to see plenty of guys like WRs Donte' Stallworth and Mark Clayton, as well as rookie TEs Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson. On the other side of the ball, there are plenty of new faces to try to fit into place. This is one of the deepest defensive lines in the game, as Cory Redding, Trevor Pryce, Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata, and Terrence Cody are all massive space eaters. That is going to open up a ton of room for a great linebacking corps which also legitimately goes two deep at each position. The questions are going to come in the secondary. At the safety spot, it seems as though Dawan Landry and Tom Zbikowski are fighting for playing time, while the cornerback spots are going to be wide open after the season ending injury to DB Dominique Foxworth.
The Final Word: Baltimore should have the Panthers outdone in basically every facet of this game on Thursday. The Ravens have the strong starting squad and are much more capable of going two to three deep at a position to still find success. Carolina has plenty of question marks, and we think those question marks are going to be left answerless in the first preseason game. Things will get better for pro football betting fans of the Panthers as the season wears on, but this day will belong to the black and purple. Quoth the Ravens, never allow a score.
Prediction: Baltimore 20 – Carolina 6