Bengals vs. Ravens Odds & Picks: Expect Plenty Of Points On Sunday
Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Lamar Jackson
Bengals vs. Ravens Odds
Win, and you’re in!
The Baltimore Ravens hope to do just that when they head to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in their regular-season finale. The Ravens could also clinch a playoff berth if either the Browns or Colts lose their games this Sunday.
There are other scenarios in which the Ravens could advance with a combination of ties, but we don’t need to get that far down the rabbit hole.
The Bengals have the chance to play the spoiler role on Sunday. They did well in this role two weeks ago when they handed the Steelers their third loss off the season, thus eliminating Pittsburgh from any chance at grabbing the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
The Bengals are playing better, to their credit, as they’re now on a two-game win streak after following their Steelers victory with a road win against the Texans. Anything can happen in the final week of the season, and I would expect a motivated Bengals team to try to pull off the upset.
Baltimore is currently a 13-point favorite in this matchup, and FiveThirtyEight gives them a 90% chance to make the playoffs. However, that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily willing to lay double-digit points with the Ravens. Instead, a look at the total has been what’s caught my eye.
The Ravens know how to be a bully. In other words, their style of play is so physical that it can overwhelm teams, particularly weaker ones.
Baltimore is 6-2 against teams worse than .500, with all six of those wins by a margin of at least 14 points. That’s certainly a good return for Ravens backers, and it’s also a sign that they’re able to play to their standards, and not down to their opponents.
In their earlier meeting against the Bengals, it was one-way traffic with the Ravens winning the game, 27-3. Baltimore has put together quite a surge in December with four consecutive wins.
It appears that the Ravens have even had a renewed commitment to running the football. Per TeamRankings, in their last three games, their run play percentage (58.29%) is almost four percentage points higher than their season average (54.46%). I would expect more of the same against a Bengals team ranked 30th in the league, allowing 4.8 yards per carry.
One misconception about Baltimore is that it is a slow-prodding team because of the commitment to running the ball. But in fact, the Ravens are actually ranked fourth, scoring .467 points per play.
Baltimore listed 14 players on their injury report, and 10 of those players are questionable.
That includes defensive linemen Calais Campbell (calf) and Yannick Ngakoue thigh), cornerbacks Marcus Peters (calf) and Marlon Humphrey (knee/shoulder), running backs Gus Edwards (back) and Mark Ingram II (illness), offensive linemen Patrick Mekari (back) and D.J. Fluker (knee) and wide receiver Willie Snead IV (ankle).
It’s worth noting that despite being listed as questionable, Mekari, Ngakoue and Snead did not participate in Friday’s practice.
If you like the Bengals’ side, you’d have to be buoyed by how they’ve played recently with consecutive wins in their last two games. They followed up the 27-17 upset of the Steelers with a 37-31 barnburner against the Texans.
It’s certainly a good sign for Zac Taylor as a second-year head coach if his team is still putting a shift in this late in the season, particularly after losing their starting quarterback in Week 11. I’d have to think the Bengals will be competitive on Sunday as they try to atone for their Week 5 loss to the Ravens.
It’s clear that a conservative approach really won’t make much sense for the Bengals, given that they don’t have anything to lose in this game. If you’re going to attack Baltimore, you’d actually have a better chance by doing it through the air.
The Ravens are ranked ninth overall in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA but 16th against the pass. This strategy makes even more sense considering that Baltimore’s secondary is a bit banged-up at the moment, with both starting cornerbacks on the injury report.
The Bengals have scored 64 points over their last two games, and last week, backup quarterback Brandon Allen threw the ball 37 times with 29 completions. Granted, the Texans are a poor defensive team, and this Sunday’s game against the Ravens would be a good test and step up in class for the second-year quarterback.
As for injuries, Cincinnati has fewer players than Baltimore listed on this week’s report: Backup center B.J. Finney (abdomen) has been ruled out, along with two players on defense — William Jackson III (concussion) and Logan Wilson (ankle).
If you’re the Ravens, you would want to put the Bengals to the sword early in this game and not even give them any inclination that they have a chance to come out with a win.
I’ve already detailed that perhaps the Bengals just let it rip with their passing game and go after this Baltimore secondary that clearly is not at 100%. Both possibilities could certainly lead to an entertaining game with points on the board.
There’s another thing to keep in mind for this game: Going back to 2009, the total has a history of going over when the Bengals are at home and facing a team with a win percentage above .500.
This system is active on Sunday and has a 28.3% return on investment.
The over deserves a look in this spot. I would look to lock this play in at the current price of 43.5 at BetMGM, as some books are already moving their number up to 44 as of Saturday afternoon.
Pick: Over 43.5 (to 44)