NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Ravens vs. Bengals: Joe Burrow & Co. Have Value in Crucial Week 16 Clash
Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow.
- Lamar Jackson isn't making the trip to Cincinnati after missing practice the last two weeks while his backup landed on the COVID list with less than 24 hours before kickoff.
- As a result of both developments, NFL odds for Ravens vs. Bengals have moved significantly, with the spread swinging from -3 to -7.
- Our expert still sees value in his bet, though. Find out which price he would bet the favorite to below.
Editor’s note: The Ravens placed backup QB Tyler Huntley on the reserve/COVID-19 list after we published this story, swinging the spread from Bengals -3 to -7. Our analyst still likes his spread bet at the right number, though. Find out how he’s betting it below.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The top teams in the AFC North square off in a battle for the division, as the first-place Bengals (!) look to cement their standing.
This is a critical game for both teams, as they bring identical 8-6 records into Sunday. Cincinnati can’t quite lock up the division just yet, but it would secure the tiebreaker against Baltimore and take a one-game lead with two weeks remaining. The Bengals dominated the first meeting between these teams earlier this season in Baltimore.
The Ravens are banking on the return of Lamar Jackson sparking something, having now lost three straight games, but it’s looking more and more likely that Tyler Huntley will get the start. Jackson has struggled even when healthy — Baltimore averaged only 15 points per game in the last three games in which Jackson played all 60 minutes. Can Baltimore turn it around in time to keep the Ravens’ playoff hopes alive?
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Ravens vs. Bengals Injury Report
Ravens vs. Bengals Matchup
|Ravens Offense||DVOA Rank||Bengals Defense|
|Ravens Defense||DVOA Rank||Bengals Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Ravens Need Improved Passing Attack
Regardless of Jackson’s health, the strength of the Ravens offense is on the ground, despite a myriad of preseason injuries to their top running backs.
Of course, much of that is due to the contributions of Jackson, who ranks in the top 10 in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Backup Tyler Huntley has managed over 50 rushing yards per game in his starts, as well. All of this success has come despite an offensive line that ranks 28th in adjusted line yards.
The Ravens’ passing attack has had its moments, particularly earlier in the season. Over his last six games, though, Jackson has eight touchdown passes to 10 interceptions. Baltimore can’t keep that up and expect to win.
Jackson’s rushing ability is nice, but there comes a time when he’ll have to win games with his arm. He has failed the Ravens too often in the second part of the season.
One of the reasons that Jackson has been forced to air it out is the poor play of Baltimore’s defense. The Ravens are stout against the run but have struggled mightily against the pass. That goes to show the importance of defending the pass in today’s NFL — the impact on total DVOA is much greater for pass defense than rushing defense.
That’s a particularly bad setup against a Bengals team with explosive pieces in the passing game. Especially considering the key injuries to Baltimore’s secondary. Starting cornerback Marlon Humphrey is out for the year, while Jimmy Smith — the Ravens’ other starting outside corner — is yet to be activated from the COVID list as of Friday morning.
Burrow’s Progression Puts Bengals in Prime Position
Joe Burrow’s sophomore season has been a success thus far. The Bengals’ franchise quarterback has improved on key metrics from his (already solid) rookie season, ranking as a top-five quarterback this year in adjusted yards per attempt (A/YA), which takes into account touchdowns and interceptions.
It hasn’t shown up in the DVOA numbers, but Burrow’s ascension has been critical to the Bengals success. They still want to be a run-first team, ranking in the top 12 in rush-play percentage. However, Cincinnati’s ability to trust its quarterback explains its current standing atop the AFC North.
The Bengals also feature a top-12 defense. Crucially, it’s a unit that matches up well with Baltimore since it’s stronger defending the run. Cincinnati’s defensive line ranks sixth in adjusted line yards, which means Baltimore’s backfield (both the running backs and quarterback) will need to create yards on its own in this one.
Cincinnati’s passing defense leaves something to be desired, but that can be overcome against Baltimore. Given how mistake-prone Jackson has been, daring him to beat you with his arm is a winning strategy.
NFL Pick: Ravens vs. Bengals
The prior meeting between these two teams led to a 41-17 win for the Bengals, but that game featured a healthy Jackson and mostly healthy Ravens defense. (Or at least one that wasn’t missing it’s top pieces in the secondary.)
This time, the game is in Cincinnati, with a surging Bengals team that is remarkably healthy (by NFL Week 16 standards) against a banged-up Baltimore team on a three-game losing streak. Jackson has played poorly when he’s been healthy and is likely to be at least somewhat hampered by his ankle injury in this one, if he plays at all.
Even their season-long points for and against paint a clear picture of the Bengals being the superior team. On the year, Cincinnati has scored 35 more points than the Ravens, while allowing 12 fewer.
Despite all of that, the Bengals are only three-point home favorites in this one. That feels about right if this game was in Baltimore, but it’s a value given that Cincinnati is the home team.
Pick: Bengals -3 | Bet to: -3.5
Editor’s Note: Based on news of Huntley’s absence due to COVID-19, our analyst would still bet the Bengals to -7 (shop for the best real-time line here).
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