Bengals vs. Ravens Betting Odds & Pick: Take the Points with Joe Burrow & CO.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow.
Bengals vs. Ravens Odds
The Ravens entered the season as one of the NFL’s top Super Bowl contenders and the favorite to win the AFC North. They bounced back from a Week 3 drubbing at the hands of the Chiefs to with a 31-17 win over Washington, but how will they fare against this Bengals team?
Cincinnati is coming off its first win of 2020, but it has lost four of its last five games to the Ravens.
Let’s dive in.
Cincinnati’s run defense has struggled without the presence of defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels. While Daniels is on injured reserve and not eligible to return until Week 7, Atkins practiced on a limited basis and will return this week at Baltimore for his 2020 debut.
Offensively, the Bengals appear to be as healthy as they can be. Coming off a 181-yard, three-touchdown game, Joe Mixon is listed as questionable for the game due to a shin injury, but he is expected to play.
The Bengals’ success has all been tied to the impressive early success of rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. The first overall pick in the 2020 draft has thrived over the past three weeks, during which Cincinnati is 1-1-1. Burrow has thrown for more than 300 yards in each of those games and has six touchdowns to just one interception.
Wide receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have become Burrow’s go-to pass catchers, having combined for 37-of-77 (48.1%) targets over the past two weeks. Veteran A.J. Green was targeted 13 times in Week 2, but hauled in just three balls — he has six catches on 12 targets for 39 yards over the past two games.
Burrow now faces a Baltimore defense that just allowed the overall RB4 and WR10 performances in PPR leagues, as well as 314 passing yards to a now-benched Dwayne Haskins.
The Ravens’ offense rolled through the first two weeks before a 14-point home loss to the Chiefs in Week 4, but Baltimore bounced back with a 14-point win last week over Washington, led by Lamar Jackson’s three touchdowns.
This week, Jackson missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday with a knee and subsequent illness designation, but he did practice on Friday. Baltimore listed 13 players on its Friday injury report, including left tackle Ronnie Staley (shoulder), wide receiver Marquise Brown (knee) and tight end Mark Andrews (thigh). However, all but two players practiced on Friday. ESPN’s Adam Schefter also reported that Jackson, Andrews and Brown are expected to play.
On the surface, the Ravens have been stout against the run, ranking third in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA, but Baltimore has allowed running backs an average of 4.0 yards per carry and the seventh-most receiving yards.
Over the past two weeks, Baltimore has struggled to contain opposing running backs, both rookies. Clyde Edwards-Helaire gained 134 total yards, while Antonio Gibson combined for 128 yards and a touchdown. Those are a cause for concern with Mixon coming off a breakout performance.
Baltimore’s backfield-by-committee approach has limited the upside of all three running backs: Mark Ingram, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. All three have been good but not great through four weeks, although the Ravens still rank third in the NFL with 160.8 rushing yards per game.
The most reliable wide receiver for Baltimore is the speedy Brown. The second-year wideout has not translated his third-best air yards share into efficient production. It would greatly help for Brown, who leads the Ravens with 16 catches and 242 receiving yards, to start producing against a Bengals team that actually ranks 10th in pass defense DVOA.
Baltimore will also need to rely on the superior pass-catching skills of Andrews, who has a pair of two-touchdown games this season, including last week against Washington. Cincinnati has allowed 22 receptions and no touchdowns over the first four games to opposing tight ends.
The Baltimore defense has not played at the level of years past, and faces a Cincinnati offense that has been reborn under Burrow. The return of Atkins will bolster the run defense, while Cincinnati’s secondary will limit Baltimore’s big plays.
Per our Bet Labs data, Baltimore is just 4-8 as a home favorite with Lamar Jackson as quarterback.
I’m taking the Bengals with the double-digit points to cover at Baltimore, and I would take it down to Cincinnati +11.5.
PICK: Bengals +12.5