On Thursday (11/16/23), the Cincinnati Bengals face the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North primetime matchup where the Ravens find themselves as 3.5-point home favorites. In this article, find a full preview of this Thursday Night Football matchup and our best bet which is the Ravens -3.5.
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction
The Bengals and Ravens are both looking to bounce back here after suffering Week 10 losses, which makes this matchup even more interesting in the midst of a heated AFC North race where all four teams are above .500. Cincinnati will be looking for revenge after Baltimore handed them a 27-24 loss in Week 2, but I like the Ravens to get the job done here.
Lamar Jackson had a rough game last week that included a late pick six that allowed the Browns to come back for the win. Jackson completed just one pass in the fourth quarter. However, this matchup presents much more opportunity for him as the Bengals have allowed the most explosive plays per game in the NFL this season.
The Ravens’ run game should be in full force against a defense ranked 29th against the run by DVOA. The Bengals have struggled to get a push up front all year, ranking 28th in defensive line yards, and it doesn’t help that defensive ends Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard are banged up heading into this game. Baltimore leads the NFL in rushing DVOA and EPA.
Meanwhile, it could be an uphill battle for Joe Burrow in this game as the Ravens rank second in both pass defense DVOA and EPA. The potential absence of cornerback Marlon Humphrey bears monitoring, but Cincinnati has significant wide receiver injuries – Tee Higgins is out again this week while Ja’Marr Chase is still dealing with a back injury.
Burrow has had significant issues against defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald since he arrived in Baltimore last season, and that should continue here with an offense that still hasn’t fully found its rhythm after a brutally slow start to the year. Burrow has under 225 passing yards in all four career games against MacDonald’s defense.
The Ravens round out the best coaching trio in the NFL for my money with head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Todd Monken, and I expect that to pay dividends in this divisional matchup on a short week. While I recommend waiting to see if the spread dips to -3 before kickoff, I’m not scared off by the hook and I’m happy to bet the Ravens at -3.5 here.
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Baltimore Ravens Prediction: Ravens -3.5
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Baltimore Ravens Best Odds
The Ravens find themselves as 3.5-point home favorites in this game, which puts them just above the key number of 3. Keep that key number in mind if you’re planning on making a wager on either side here. The over/under sits at 46 points at the moment, which is on the high side for a Thursday night game, but warranted given the matchup between Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson.
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Injuries
While Joe Burrow is now fully healthy for the Bengals, injuries to multiple wide receivers including Tee Higgins hurt the overall offensive upside. The Bengals will also be without edge Sam Hubbard here while Trey Hendrickson plans to play through a hyperextended knee. The Ravens will be without left tackle Ronnie Stanley, but the status of star cornerback Marlon Humphrey is the big one to watch as he’ll match up with Ja’Marr Chase often in this game.
Cincinnati Bengals Vs. Baltimore Ravens Key Matchups
When the Bengals and Ravens face off, you can expect a heated battle between two teams that know each other very well. With both sides featuring MVP-level quarterbacks, let’s break down how they match up against the opposing defenses in this game.
Joe Burrow Vs. Ravens’ Pass Defense
Coming out of the bye week, Joe Burrow put together two of the best games of his career against the 49ers and Bills. He completed 77.6% of his passes across those two games with 8.3 yards per attempt and five touchowns to no interceptions. However, he had four turnover-worthy plays against the Texans last week per PFF, and he came back down to earth a bit.
This week, Burrow faces a defense that has given him fits in Baltimore. Mike MacDonald’s scheme has created a lot of issues for Burrow – over the last two seasons, his average yards per attempt drops from 7.0 overall to 5.8 against Baltimore and his passer rating drops from 94.7 to 87.3. He hasn’t surpassed 225 passing yards in any of those games.
The Ravens’ defense has been in full force, allowing the lowest opposing passer rating over the last five games, while Burrow ranks third in passing yards per game over that same span. I’m banking on Burrow’s struggles continuing against this opponent, especially with a banged up wide receiver room to boot. I recommended Burrow under 258.5 passing yards on our player props show.
Lamar Jackson Vs. Bengals’ Pass Defense
It’s been an up and down year for the Bengals’ defense as they are starting multiple first or second year players in the secondary, and they rank 29th in pass defense success rate as a result. Last week, C.J. Stroud finished with 356 passing yards against them, creating doubts as they head into this matchup against an MVP caliber QB in Jackson.
In new offensive coordinator Todd Monken’s scheme, Jackson has thrived as he ranks top ten among qualified passers with an 84.1 PFF passing grade and 78.3% adjusted completion rate – those are both career highs. Jackson’s improvement as a passer has only made him more dangerous as a runner as defense’s can’t load the box as frequently.
Jackson’s raw production against the Bengals earlier this season wasn’t anything to write home about with 237 passing yards and two touchdowns, but he has an opportunity here in primetime to put his stamp on a wide open MVP race and help his team earn a crucial win in a heated divisional race. After his struggles last week, he won’t take that lightly.