NFL Football Odds and Predictions on Baltimore vs Philadelphia
Las Vegas Sports Picks
Sunday, September 16, 2012
by Nick Orlando
Baltimore (1-0) at Philadelphia (1-0)
Joe Flacco strengthened his case for landing the big long- term contract he's been seeking with a terrific Week 1 performance, while the Philadelphia Eagles are hoping for a better return on the heavy investment they made in Michael Vick.
Flacco will have a chance to further his cause when the steady quarterback leads the Baltimore Ravens into Lincoln Financial Field to take on the talented Eagles in an intriguing interconference clash between teams with very high expectations for the 2012 season.
Entering the final year of a rookie deal he signed as Baltimore's first-round draft choice in 2008, Flacco certainly didn't let his uncertain future status affect him in the season opener. The 27-year-old was razor sharp in directing a more up-tempo Ravens offense that looked to be in midyear form in Monday's matchup against fellow AFC North member Cincinnati, completing 21-of-29 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover to spearhead a 44-13 shellacking of the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
Flacco steered the offense to points on its first three drives to enable Baltimore to build a 17-3 lead early in the second quarter, then helped thwart a Cincinnati comeback effort by orchestrating a critical nine-play, 89-yard possession midway through the third period that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown strike to Dennis Pitta for a 24-13 advantage.
The Ravens piled up 430 total yards for the contest, with Flacco finishing with a 128.4 passer rating that stands as the fourth-best mark in the fifth- year pro's career.
"Pay him whatever he asks for," Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh said lightheartedly afterward. "Pay the man.
"We've always stood up here and we've always, all of our coaches, the organization, we know what we've got in this guy. He has won a lot of football games."
The Eagles showed Vick the money after the controversial signal-caller put together a stupendous comeback season during the team's run to an NFC East title in 2010, inking a five-year pact with a maximum value of $80 million in August of last year. The playmaking veteran's play has been somewhat up-and- down since signing the mega-deal, however, and there were plenty of low points in his first outing of this new season.
Vick was intercepted four times in last Sunday's game at Cleveland, with the final one returned 27 yards for a touchdown by linebacker D'Qwell Jackson that gave the Browns a six-point lead with under 14 minutes left. He was able to gain a measure of redemption, however, by engineering a 16-play, 91-yard series in the contest's final stages and hitting tight end Clay Harbor for a four-yard score with 1:18 to go that lifted Philadelphia to a sloppy but hard- earned 17-16 win.
The Eagles turned the ball over five times in all while committing 12 penalties for 110 yards, with the miscues lessening the effectiveness of an offense that churned out 456 total yards and 25 first downs while holding the ball for nearly 36 minutes.
"You just can't have those, and I would say that we didn't play as disciplined offensively as we needed to all the way around," Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid remarked. You start looking at 456 yards of total offense and then you're not putting it in the end zone. That's ridiculous there. You have 12 penalties for 110 yards. That's ridiculous and that's not good football. We just have to make sure we take care of that."
The Eagles were also plagued by errors in their most recent tussle with the Ravens, with five Philadelphia giveaways contributing greatly to an ugly 37-6 defeat in Baltimore back in 2008.
That game was the first head-to-head encounter between Reid and Harbaugh, who served 10 seasons as an Eagles assistant from 1998-2007 before being hired by the Ravens. The final nine years of that tenure were spent under Reid.
Sunday's bout will also be a homecoming for Flacco, who grew in the Philadelphia suburb of Audubon, N.J. and will be making his first career regular-season appearance at Lincoln Financial Field.
How one of the week's most captivating matchups turns out will be dependent on two crucial variables. One is the status of Maclin, who changes the entire dynamic of the Philadelphia offense by allowing Jackson more space to maximize his talents. The other is obviously Vick. A multi-interception day won't cut it against a Baltimore team that can score points with a balanced offense and has always excelled at creating opportunities on the other end. Luckily for the struggling veteran, he has a couple of master game-planners in Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to help him out, as well as dynamic runner in McCoy whose speed could create problems for Baltimore's aging and Suggs-less defense. And although it's up in the air as to if Maclin will play, he does have a history of battling through physical ailments and will do all he can to make it to field for such an important game. Rice is going to be a factor as well for the Ravens, but Flacco won't have as easy a time against Philadelphia's stout pass defense as he did in carving up a soft Cincinnati secondary last week. In a contest where neither team would surprise if it came out on top, the Eagles' younger and faster defense and home-field advantage rate an ever-so-slight edge.
Sports Rumble's NFL Football Prediction: Eagles 24, Ravens 21