Clearing up their training camp-long quarterback battle, the Buffalo Bills dealt A.J. McCarron to Oakland and named second-year player Nathan Peterman the starter over Josh Allen. The Bills used the seventh overall pick in the last draft on Allen, making him the highest quarterback ever selected by the team, so it’s just a matter of time before he gets a shot. Many feel the Bills have taken a step back after ending a 17-year playoff drought last season, but they surprised the masses last year. They open the season with a Week 1 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
This contest in Week 1 of the NFL regular season will go down Sunday, September 9, 2018, at 1 p.m. ET at MT Bank Stadium.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
Buffalo Bills +7
Baltimore Ravens -7
The quarterback situation in Buffalo caused a serious move on the spread for this one. When the number originally hit the board, the Ravens were -3.5. The number has gradually been wagered up to its current -7 and could have more movement before kickoff with 80 percent of the public backing the home team. The under is also getting heavy play on a total that currently sits at 41.
Jimmy Smith – An anchor in the secondary and a player who makes the defense the group it is, the Ravens will be without starting cornerback Jimmy Smith as he begins serving a suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Often overlooked on a defense that has consistently been one of the best, the numbers with Smith on the field don’t lie.
In 23 games with Smith on the field over the last two seasons, the Ravens have held opponents to 212.6 passing yards. In the nine games without him that number increased to 250.4 with a passer rating of 85.7. John Harbaugh feels his team is better equipped to handle Smith’s absence with a deep secondary that includes 10-year veteran starter Brandon Carr taking Smith’s spot.
Player to Watch
Peterman had an outstanding preseason, but until he does something in a meaningful game he’ll always be remembered for his train wreck starting debut last season. All signs pointed to Peterman being a fringe player after the Bills acquired McCarron and traded up to take Allen with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. But Peterman kept plugging away and made the decision easy with his performance in the exhibition games.
Completing 80.5 percent of his 41 passes for 431 yards with three touchdowns, Peterman compiled a 124.7 passer rating in three preseason games. He has the support of his coaching staff and teammates and was the likely pick to start ahead of Allen, who showed he still needs some seasoning.
Matchup to Watch
No one cares about special teams play until it either wins or loses a game. For the Ravens, their special teamers have won plenty of games. No team has the consistency the Ravens do at kicker and punter and the duo of Justin Tucker and Sam Koch, along with long snapper Morgan Cox, returns for a seventh season together and is among if not the best group in the NFL.
Tucker is as automatic as a kicker can be in this business. He’s the NFL’s all-time leader in accuracy making 90.2 percent of his field goal tries. He was 34 of 37 last year with two misses coming from beyond 50 yards. Tucker has missed just two of 112 career attempts from inside 40 yards and he’s never missed a PAT. That’s right, Tucker has made 205 straight PATs since joining the team in 2012.
Free ATS Pick
The Ravens are looking to get back to the postseason after missing out the last three years, and they feel strongly about this season because Joe Flacco is back to being Joe Flacco. The QB endured some hard times the last two seasons, due to health issues and a lack of support. But Flacco enters 2018 healthy and he has play makers on the outside. The Ravens rarely went downfield in the passing game last year, but Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead give them options.
Offensively the Ravens should be much better and the defense is aligned to be a stingy group once again. I don’t see the Bills winning this game, especially on the road, and once the Ravens stop LeSean McCoy, Peterman won’t be able to move the team through the air. The total is low at 41, but I can see this one cashing the under with the home team covering.
NFL Betting Odds: Ravens 23, Bills 13
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