Week 18 became more intriguing as ever after the official announcement of the schedule changes from the Bills/Bengals cancellation. In result, the Bengals locked up their division title while still able to climb up to as high as second in the AFC playoff. As for the Ravens, this is a meaningless game as they will look to get well rested and healthy before the playoffs. The question remains, can the Ravens still keep it competitive?
Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds
Oddsmakers don’t think so as they opened the Ravens as a +6.5 underdog. That was before the news of Cincy locking up the division title, now making this a meaningless game for the Ravens. Because of the sudden news, the Ravens will look to rest up and this shot the number up to as high as +10. They may opt in to using their third string quarterback Anthony Brown. The issue is that the Bengals still have something to play for, keeping their starters in the game.
As for the total, points are expected to be scored at a premium as oddsmakers opened the number at 43. In light of the Ravens offense being decimated by opt outs to recover for the playoffs, bettors have shot the under down to as low as 39.5. With the Bengals offense still firing on all cylinders, this is a pass for me as I am unsure how high either team can make this go before throwing in the towel to end the game intact.
Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals Prediction
The Pick: Ravens +10
With that said, I believe the spread has climbed too high and will take the Ravens at no lower than +10 for a small wager. The drop off from Huntley to Brown does not warrant a near four-point swing as the Ravens will heavily rely on the ground game as usual. This has been their identity for years and are effectively doing it again this season as the Ravens rank top-5 in Off Rush DVOA.
They run it well enough to compete with the Bengals, even if it may seem they are outmatched by their starters. The Bengals defense has been the definition of average, ranking middle of the pact in Def Rush and Pass DVOA. Should Baltimore limit their own Havoc and run a conservative type of approach, this will limit the Bengals offensive opportunities while the Ravens drain the clock on their end.
Luckily for the Ravens, they benefit from the Bengals desire to take their foot off the pedal late in the game should they jump out to an early lead. This gives the Ravens a beautiful back door opportunity as a two-score underdog. As long as their offense can do just enough to get legendary kicker Justin Tucker into range, his leg can give us hope of a late backdoor.
- Ravens are 34-15-5 ATS in their last 53 road games vs a team with a home winning record
- Under is 5-0 in the last five Ravens games
- Road team is 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings
Baltimore Ravens Injuries: Lamar Jackson (O), Calais Campbell (Q), Marcus Peters (Q), Desean Jackson (Q), Tyler Huntley (Q)
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries: Sam Hubbard (Q), La’el Collins (O), Eli Apple (Q)
Can the Ravens defense limit the Bengals potent offense?
Joe Burrow vs Ravens secondary
The catalyst behind the Bengals recent surge of success, fielding a lethal pass attack behind the arm of Joe Burrow. Their pass attack ranks as one of the best in the NFL, top-5 in Off Pass DVOA.
As of now the Ravens defense is remaining fairly intact which can pose a challenge for the Bengals. While their Def Pass DVOA has dipped, that has been in large part due to injuries. They still can generate a pass rush and force Burrow into low quality looks.
If the Ravens defense can slow down the Bengals pass attack, then they will be in prime position to cover a two-score spread. Take the Ravens at no lower than +10.