The NFL’s Thursday night matchup in Week 1 between the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles was an entertaining one. The Eagles ended up winning 18-12.
Hopefully, Week 2’s Thursday game between the 1-0 Baltimore Ravens and 1-0 Cincinnati Bengals will be similarly exciting (8:20 p.m. ET on NFL Network).
Baltimore looked particularly impressive in Week 1, dominating the hapless Buffalo Bills 48-3 at home. The Bengals had some trouble with the Indianapolis Colts on the road, but they eventually won 34-23.
Last year, the Ravens and Bengals both won on each other’s fields. Overall, the Bengals have won seven of last nine versus Baltimore. This is obviously a new year. How will these two AFC North rivals fare against each other in Week 2? Let’s ask some questions about the matchups and hypothesize about the betting lines from the best betting websites for Americans. Then we will conclude with our preview’s Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals predictions and picks.
Is the Ravens’ Defense Actually Elite?
The Ravens always find a way to have at least a respectable defense. Since 1999, Baltimore has ranked below 12th in the NFL in yardage defense just twice (22nd in 2002 and 17th in 2012). The team’s average finish in that category since 1999 is just a tad better than 7th in the league.
Once again, Baltimore came into the preseason looking like a solid defensive squad. However, there aren’t a bunch of legit stars in their prime, which is usually a staple for truly elite defensive squads.
The Ravens, however, have looked very elite on defense during the preseason and Week 1. They led the NFL in interceptions and sacks during the preseason, while allowing the fewest yards per game. Against the Bills in Week 1, they allowed no first downs in the first half.
Preseason often means very little and the Bills are probably the NFL’s worst team. Are the Ravens just a good defense or an amazing one? We should get some more insight on the answer to that question on the road against the Bengals.
Has Joe Mixon Emerged as a True No. 1 Running Back?
Mixon had a so-so rookie year with the Bengals last year. The running back struggled with an inconsistent role and terrible offensive line play and could never really find a groove.
In Week 1 against the Colts, though, Mixon dominated. He picked up a touchdown and 149 yards combined from running and receiving on just 22 touches. After trimming down a bit during the offseason, he made some shifty cuts in the backfield to set up nice gains. The offensive line’s performance was still less than ideal, but it helped Mixon out a little bit more than last season.
If the Ravens have a weakness on defense, it is that they aren’t great against the run. Mixon’s combination of quickness and power could create problems for Baltimore if he stays hot and the offensive line can play well enough.
Can Joe Flacco Stay Mistake-Free On the Road Against the Bengals?
The Bengals have a strong front seven and should be able mostly to control a toothless Ravens running game. That means quarterback Joe Flacco will be relied upon to make most of the big plays. Flacco has fallen off in the past few years and is pretty erratic as a thrower.
His avoidance of turnovers was very key a year ago. He threw 10 interceptions in the team’s seven losses (1.4 per game), but just three in the team’s nine wins (0.3 per game).
The Bengals need to realize this and be opportunistic on defense against the Ravens. This will help them earn good field position to get easier scores on offense against Baltimore’s stout defense.
Our Betting Preview’s Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Picks & Predictions Verdict
These two teams are both pretty average and evenly-matched. Cincinnati looks decent on both sides of the ball, while Baltimore’s above-average defense balances out its below-average defense. I don’t buy the Ravens having a totally dominant defense until they show it against better competition.
As such, having home-field advantage should be enough to give Cincinnati the very slim edge in this contest.
- The odds at most sportsbooks have this game very close to even. You can find some places that have the Ravens as favorites, though. At the moment, your best odds of Bengals +1pt @ -105 are available with Bovada.
- This game is expected to be on the lower-scoring end of things, as neither squad plays particularly uptempo or is a great offense. However, this game should be back and forth in the second half with both teams using the clock carefully. I think the final score will be somewhere along the lines of 24-21 or 27-23 and hit the over with most sites. Bet on this game going over 44pts @ -110 with Bovada, Intertops, 5Dimes or Bookmaker.