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Thursday Night Football: Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals

Week 2 of the NFL will get started with an AFC North rivalry game between the Bengals and Ravens. The last time these two teams met, the Bengals scored a last-minute touchdown in Week 17 to keep Baltimore out of the playoffs, so at least one team will have a little extra motivation. The line opened as a PK, although the Bengals are now a 1-point favorite at home.

Both teams got their season started with a win in Week 1. The Bengals made a rather impressive comeback against the Colts to erase a lackluster 1st half and a 23-10 deficit. Cincinnati scored the final 24 points of the game to knock off the Colts 34-23.

Meanwhile, the Ravens cruised to a 47-3 win over the Bills on a rainy day in Baltimore. The Ravens were able to take full advantage of a helpless Buffalo offense, which struggled to get anything going with either Nathan Peterman or Josh Allen at quarterback. However, the Baltimore offense also looked good against a solid Bills defense.

New Look Offense

The Ravens made a number of changes to their offense during the offseason in hopes of helping Joe Flacco in the twilight of his career, and they seemed to have paid off in Week 1. Despite a disappointing effort by the Baltimore running backs, Flacco seemed to work well with the wide receiver trio of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown, who look like an immediate upgrade over the likes of Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin.

However, it wasn’t just the Baltimore wide receivers doing the work. Tight ends Nick Boyle, Maxx Williams, and Mark Andrew all had three catches each and proved to be viable targets in the passing game. When all was said and done, Flacco connected with nine different receivers, giving the Baltimore offense the kind of balance that could be difficult for the Cincinnati defense to defend.

Two-Man Show

On the contrary, the Bengals seemed a little too reliant on the work of running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver A.J. Green. The two combined for over half of Andy Dalton’s targets and 11 of his 21 completions in Week 1. Obviously, there’s no such thing as giving Green the ball too much, but a good defensive team like the Ravens should be able to figure out when a quarterback becomes too focused on one or two players. Baltimore’s defense will know to do what they can to take Green away and force Dalton to look at other targets.

Meanwhile, Mixon could be the biggest x-factor in the game. He looks much improved from a year ago, but let’s keep in mind that the Indianapolis defense has plenty of issues. The Ravens were able to slow down LeSean McCoy in Week 1, so they should be able to slow down Mixon and the Cincinnati running game as well.

On the Road

To be fair, we didn’t learn much about the Ravens during their lopsided win over the Bills. Meanwhile, there were mixed messages from the Bengals, who struggled in one half and were outstanding in the other. However, between the usually solid Baltimore defense and Flacco’s promising play in Week 1, the Ravens are more than capable of winning on the road. Bet on the Ravens +1 to win in Cincinnati on Thursday night.

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