If you were disappointed by last week’s very underwhelming prime-time slate, the good news is that it gets significantly better this week, starting with the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday Night Football.
This is a pivotal midseason divisional matchup for both teams, as the Ravens need a win to regain control over the AFC North. Meanwhile, the Bengals need to avoid falling out of the playoff picture. Which team walks away with a win tonight? Let’s dive into the Bengals vs. Ravens predictions, picks against the spread, and more.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens Betting Lines
The biggest storyline from an odds perspective for tonight’s game is whether the streak for prime-time unders will continue. The under has won in 11 straight night games and are now up to 25-7 for the season.
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Bengals +165, Ravens -195
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens Predictions
Bearman: For this game, I am going to use a simple trend that our Cincinnati Bengals beat writer Jay Morrison uncovered. Since winning a Thursday night game at Philadelphia in December of 2012, the Bengals have lost 14 consecutive prime-time road games in the regular season and playoffs, as “prime time” is defined as a night game starting at 6:30 p.m. ET or later.
Every other team in the league has at least one road prime-time win during that span. Before you say, “Well, Bengals are better now,” … they are 0-4 with Burrow behind center.
And that’s only part of the problem. Who has the best home win percentage over this same time period? Glad you asked — the Ravens, who are 12-3 during the last 10 years.
Trends aren’t everything, but I think the Ravens are the better team.
Pick: Ravens -3.5 (-114 at FanDuel)
Blewis: I’ve been cashing in on the prime-time unders phenomenon all season long, and despite these teams combining for 51 points in their Week 2 matchup, I’m not going to stray away just yet.
Even despite allowing 33 points to the Browns last week, this Ravens defense is still elite, and they’ve had Burrow’s number since their defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald has led this unit dating back to last season.
In four games against Macdonald and this Ravens defense, the Bengals are averaging 23 points and 266 yards per game. The points per game number is inflated by a couple of turnovers from the Ravens’ backup quarterbacks that led to defensive touchdowns.
I’m not in the business of blinding betting a trend, but the recent history between these two teams heavily favors the under.
Pick: Under 46 (-110 at FanDuel)
Soppe: Joe Mixon is a viable fantasy football option, but this is a tough spot. Not only do the Ravens own easily the best defense in the league on a yards-per-play basis, but they also rank fifth in time of possession. That puts Mixon’s already shaky volume (13.3 carries per game over the past month) in further danger.
Don’t believe me? In seven of 10 games this season, the team facing Baltimore did not have a player carry the rock 15 times. He’s averaging just 3.9 yards per carry this season (3.7 if you remove his first four carries of the season), and with over 1,800 touches on his legs, the path to Mixon unders in a physical game on short rest is reasonably straightforward.
Pick: Joe Mixon under 55.5 rushing yards (-115 at DraftKings)
Soppe: Tee Higgins is expected to sit out again, and that opens up usage that we know is Boyd’s to gain. The Ravens’ elite per-play defense suggests that they are rarely beat for big plays, and that’s just fine by me.
Boyd’s aDOT is down 25.4% from last season, and in his past three games in which Higgins has either sat out or caught fewer than five passes, Boyd’s aDOT is 24.2% lower than all other games this season. In fact, in those three games, Boyd has caught 21 of 26 targets, making the most of passes that are little more than extended handoffs.
Pick: Tyler Boyd over 4.5 receptions (+124 at DraftKings)
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