AFC North rivals will collide Sunday evening’s Wild Card matchup as the Baltimore Ravens (10-7) take on the Cincinnati Bengals (12-4). The Bengals will host this one at Paycor Stadium, with kickoff scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
This will be the second time in a row that these two have squared off after the Bengals beat the Ravens 27-16 in Week 18. In that matchup just a week ago, Joe Burrow threw for 215 yards and a touchdowns, while Joe Mixon added 27 yards rushing and a score of his own.
For the Ravens, Anthony Brown got the start under center in that contest. He threw for 286 yards, but he also had two interceptions. On the ground, Kenyan Drake rushed 16 times for 60 yards and a score.
The Bengals are heavy favorites playing at home. They are -460 to win, while the Ravens’ moneyline sits at +360. The spread features Baltimore as 8.5-point underdogs (-110), and the over/under for total points is 40.5 (-110).
Baltimore’s Offense Will Be Short-Handed Again
It has been over a month since the Ravens’ Lamar Jackson has played in a game, and it appears that the star quarterback will be missing at least one more week. On Friday, the team officially ruled out Jackson as he continues to be hampered by a knee issue.
With Jackson out, Baltimore will either have to turn to Anthony Brown again or turn to Tyler Huntley, assuming he is healthy enough. Dealing with his own injury (shoulder), Huntley is listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup, although he was a full participant at practice on Friday.
Still, Jackson’s absence is a huge blow for an offense that ranks just 19th in the NFL, averaging 20.6 points per game.
If the Ravens are going to survive for another week, their defense is going to have to carry much of the load. This year, they rank third in scoring defense, allowing opponents just 18.5 points per game. That recipe for success is what allowed Baltimore to beat Cincinnati 19-17 in their first game back on October 9.
Patrick Queen (117 tackles), Justin Houston (9.5 sacks), and Marcus Williams (four interceptions) lead Baltimore’s stingy defense.
Cincinnati Hopes To Make It Two In A Row Over Baltimore
As the Bengals begin their quest to make it back to the Super Bowl for the second year in a row, they will face a familiar team in their division rivals. After just hosting them last week at Paycor Stadium, the Bengals will look for a repeat performance and make it two wins in a row over the Ravens.
To do so, the Bengals will rely on an offense that ranks seventh in the NFL, averaging 26.1 points per game (28.7 at home). The offense is led by star quarterback Joe Burrow, who threw for 4,475 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions.
Burrow has a wealth of options in the passing game as Ja’Marr Chase (1,046 yards, nine touchdowns), Tee Higgins (1,029 yards, seven touchdowns), and Tyler Boyd (762 yards, five touchdowns) all had great seasons.
On the defensive side, the Bengals rank sixth overall, allowing an average of 20.1 points per game (18 at home).
Take Cincinnati To Win And Cover
Looking at the trends, Baltimore is 9-3 in their last nine games against Cincinnati, and they are 6-3 against the spread in their last nine road games. In their last eight games against AFC North opponents, they are just 2-6 against the spread.
As for the Bengals, they are undefeated in their last eight games, and they are 7-1 against the spread over that span. They have also not lost a home game since a 23-20 loss to the Steelers in Week 1 of the season.
The Ravens are in a really tough spot here. They are likely going to have to rely on their defense if they hope to win this game with Lamar Jackson out.
It is worth paying attention as to whether Huntley is going or not as he might give the Ravens a little more under center. As for Anthony Brown, he has averaged just 12.5 points per game when playing.
Still, these two teams are just trending in opposite directions and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Bengals walk away with an easy win in this one at home. Take Cincinnati to not only win, but to cover the 8.5 points as well.