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The Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens are certainly considered to be playoff contenders coming into the 2012 NFL Season. And these two will meet in the first week of the preseason on Thursday, as both get prepared to iron out the kinks as the regular season approaches.
The 2011 season ended harshly for both of these teams.
For the Falcons, it was a pathetic two-point performance against the New York Giants in the first round of the postseason.
For the Ravens, it was a heartbreaking defeat in the AFC championship against the New England Patriots. Baltimore nearly pulled off the win to advance to the Super Bowl, but came up just short in the final minute of the game.
But that is all behind them us now, with the 2012 season on the horizon, and the goals for both of these teams as lofty as ever.
Atlanta has been consistent under head coach Mike smith and quarterback Matt Ryan. Ryan will again have plenty of weapons, and perhaps the best 1-2 punch of wide receivers in the NFL in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Jones had a fantastic rookie season, with the expectations for him even higher.
The question for the falcons will be more on the defense, though it improved from a season ago. Really Atlanta has been good in the regular season, but dropped an egg in the playoffs each of the last two playoffs. The Falcons have gone one and done each of the last two seasons. That is something that will have to be worked on.
For the Ravens, they once again look like one of the most complete teams in the NFL. They are solid on both sides of the ball, and are
right there on the door knocking and looking to break through for a berth in the Super Bowl.
As for this match up, don’t expect to see the starters on the field for very long, but we should see them in for a few series at least.
BetOnline Sportsbook have set Atlanta as one-point favorites over Baltimore, so it’s basically a pick’em. The Falcons will need to win by at least two points to cover, with a loss giving the Ravens the win against the spread.