The Baltimore Ravens bring their lengthy preseason winning streak to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium. Head coach Jim Harbaugh has a tradition of trying hard in preseason contests, which has led to 18 straight wins and a 16-2 record against the spread. The Ravens will likely be a publicly-backed team as they continue to review their depth.
As of Thursday, the Ravens are listed as 3- or 3.5-point favorites, depending on the sportsbook. While FanDuel has them as 3-point favorites, Panthers bettors can get more bang for their buck at PointsBet with the half-point hook. The total sits at 35 or 35.5 points.
Advantage On Defense, But Questions At Quarterback For Baltimore
Baltimore ran its preseason win streak to 18 games with a 17-14 win at home over the Saints last week, covering the 2.5-point spread. The Ravens were able to take the first preseason contest of the season largely with a solid defensive effort and the play of quarterback Tyler Huntley in the final quarter. Much of the defense is expected to play again Saturday night in the first half.
While the defense has an advantage against a weak offensive line, Carolina coach Matt Rhule said he’s “leaning toward” getting QB Sam Darnold and “several starters” some playing time, per the Charlotte Observer.
There are also questions surrounding Lamar Jackson‘s status for the game. Even if he does suit up, he isn’t expected to take many snaps under center.
Backup quarterback Trace McSorley will miss the rest of the preseason with a back injury, but Huntley had a good showing against New Orleans. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 79 yards and added 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Elsewhere, there are some battles on the Baltimore depth chart to solve. Running back Ty’Son Williams saw plenty of action with 41 yards on 10 carries and five catches for 28 yards. Jaylon Moore led Ravens receivers with 32 yards on a couple of grabs.
Will Sam Darnold Make His Panthers Debut Against Baltimore?
Second-year head coach Matt Rhule called the first preseason game of his NFL career last week, a 21-18 loss as a 3-point underdog at Indianapolis. The Panthers’ potential success this week could hinge on if and how much Darnold, Carolina’s new QB, plays.
Prior to Rhule, Carolina went 7-5 against the spread in preseason action over the last three years (2017-19) with a 4-2 advantage at home.
The coach has yet to make an official decision on Darnold for this contest, which follows a few joint practices with the Ravens. Rhule said Darnold will definitely play in the team’s final preseason game against Pittsburgh. If the quarterback sits again this week, things certainly swing in favor of Baltimore to grab another preseason win.
Sports Betting Recommendation
- Ravens -3.0 (-110, FanDuel)
- Under 35.5 (-105, PointsBet)
Regardless if Darnold makes a start or not, laying the points with Baltimore looks like the best option. There are too many questions surrounding the health of some offensive players for Carolina. Rhule will lean toward playing conservative instead of putting his quarterback in a bad situation.
If it is announced that Darnold will not start, the point spread will likely be nudged upward. There is a handful of 5- and 6-point spreads in Week 2, atypical for preseason action, and it may be worth taking the discount here with Baltimore at -3, or to pick an alternative line to avoid a potential push.
Many preseason games have seen their totals hover around the 35-point mark, including this contest. Fourteen of the first 17 preseason games have fallen below their totals. Given what could be a strong defensive start, there should be enough room for this contest to stay under even with late scoring.