NFL PicksOverview:

The NFL betting is getting fierce as the teams have crossed the halfway point and are heading towards the playoffs. Some people are still betting that the Baltimore Ravens (6-2) are going to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, while others are seeing the NFL scores the Atlanta Falcons (6-2) are putting up and are picking Atlanta to play in Dallas in February.

The preseason NFL predictions had the Atlanta Falcons giving the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints a run for their money in the NFC South, but few could have predicted the problems the Saints would be having on offense and the way that the Falcons have been able to exploit those problems.

In this battle of two first place teams, we will see the hard-nosed defense of the Baltimore Ravens collide with the prolific offense of the Atlanta Falcons. If defense really wins championships, then the Ravens should be able to pull this game out with no problem.

Offense

The Atlanta Falcons have the fifth ranked offense in the league, and much of the credit for that goes to quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner. Ryan has thrown for 1,949 yards already this season and 13 touchdowns. Turner has rushed for 694 yards and five touchdowns. When the Falcons get deep into the red zone they are definitely a threat to score a touchdown. Turner has done a great job at stretching out the field for Ryan and wide receiver Roddy White.

The Ravens may not admit it but they were pretty concerned about their quarterback Joe Flacco earlier in the season. The Ravens went out and got wide receiver Anquan Boldin as a new target for Flacco, and with Ray Rice running the ball the Baltimore offense should have been a juggernaut. But Flacco was indecisive early in the season, and it was starting to become a concern. But in the last few games Flacco has come around and has put his team in line for a playoff berth.

Defense

The Ravens are playing good defense as they are ranked ninth overall in the league, but they are not playing great defense. They are inconsistent on the running game, and if Ed Reed is not on the field then the Baltimore secondary is suspect as well. But in the last couple of weeks Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis have been getting turnovers for the Ravens that are resulting in points. That kind of attacking defense is what will win the Ravens games.

The Falcons are great against the run as they are ranked sixth in the league, but if Flacco starts finding open receivers then it could be a long day for Atlanta. Look for the Falcons to shut down the Baltimore running game and key in on Flacco and the passing game. That puts the game on the shoulders of Flacco which, lately, has been a good thing for the Ravens.

The Bottom Line:

The Ravens need this game and are playing solid on both sides of the ball. The Falcons really need this game as the Saints are picking up some momentum in the NFC South. But the Falcons may not have enough defense to contain Flacco and the Ravens offense. If the Ravens defense can cause turnovers, then this game goes to Baltimore.

BSN Sports Pick: Baltimore Ravens

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