The Ravens travel to Cincinnati for the second-straight week to face the division-rival Bengals, who beat Baltimore last week to secure Cincy’s place as the No. 3 seed in the AFC. But this week means more than just ‘win or go home.’ This wild-card contest could dictate the future of the Ravens organization. Today we will discuss this pivotal AFC North battle, and get you prepared for all things betting ahead of its 8:15 p.m. kickoff on Sunday Night Football.
We know all about hot and cold streaks in sports, especially in the NFL. But these two teams are about as polar-opposite at this current stage of the 2022 campaign as you will ever see them. Joe Burrow and the Bengals have hit their stride with a blistering eight-game winning streak, while the Ravens have lost four in a row and haven’t had franchise QB Lamar Jackson (knee) on the field since he played 10 snaps and injured his PCL on Dec. 4.
All signs point to LJax once again being unable to suit up, which would mean another high-pressure start for either backup QB Tyler Huntley (also questionable, with a shoulder injury) or third-stringer Anthony Brown. Ravens fans are probably harkening for the days of Joe Flacco right now.
Let’s dive further into the betting side of the Ravens vs. Bengals playoff game, including updated odds, trends, and our prediction for what should be a wild Sunday night of wild-card football.
MORE WILD-CARD PICKS: Against the spread | Straight up
Ravens at Bengals odds for NFL wild-card game
- Spread: Bengals -8.5 (-110) | Ravens +8.5 (-110)
- Moneyline: Bengals -400 | Ravens +310
- Over/under: O 40.5 (-110) | U 40.5 (-110)
The Bengals opened at -6, but that number started rising the further into the week we got without positive news on the LJax front. According to BetQL’s line movement tracking, Cincy jumped from -6.5 on Wednesday to -9 on a bunch of sportsbooks by Thursday at noon. The projected total traveled a similar path, moving from its 44-point open all the way down to 40.5.
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Ravens vs. Bengals all-time series
Baltimore leads the all-time series 28-26. Cincinnati has won three of the past four meetings, but Baltimore took five straight between 2018 and 2021. Before that run, Cincy went 8-2 between 2013 and 2018.
Ravens at Bengals: Three trends to know
— Cincinnati is a whopping 12-4 against the spread this season, with Joe Burrow becoming the ‘Face of the Favorites.’
— Baltimore has gone 2-2 ATS since Jackson hurt his knee, but the covers were by the hairs on John Harbaugh’s chinny-chin-chin. Last week, Cincy covered its +11.5 spread by a half-point (27-16 Bengals), and on Christmas Eve Cincy covered its -7 against Atlanta by one point (17-9).
— With the Ravens often looking inept on offense, points have been as low, low, low, low as a Flo Rida song. Baltimore games went UNDER in 12 of the 17 regular-season games. The majority of Cincy’s games also went UNDER, but just nine out of 16 games. Combine their seasons and you have a 63.6 percent UNDER rate.
Dolphins vs. Bills: Three things to watch
Can Baltimore take care of the football?
In the five weeks since LJax got hurt, Huntley has started four games and Brown has started one. Across that span, Baltimore went 2-0 when committing zero turnovers but 0-3 when turning the ball over. The Ravens’ four turnovers in Cincy last week pushed them up to seven over the course of the last three losses, and 12 since Baltimore’s Week 10 bye. The Bengals, meanwhile, have nine takeaways over their past three games. With the Ravens missing multiple key offensive weapons — including wideouts Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay (both IRed with foot injuries) and potentially Gus Edwards (concussion) — this could get ugly.
Can Huntley (or Brown) keep up with Burrow’s aerial assault?
With the Bengals’ run game underwhelming in the home stretch of the season, it has been Burrow that has served as the main catalyst in Cincy’s wild second-half run. Plain and simple, it will be a massive challenge for either Huntley or Brown to keep up, even with the best Greg Roman game plan. The Bengals have been stifling on the ground, led by stud linebacker Logan Wilson and an underrated d-line. The way to move the ball between the 20s on Cincinnati has been through the air, but Baltimore’s passing attack has been anemic (to put it nicely). While the Ravens’ 276 passing yards last week look good on paper, we know that was mostly garbage-time heaves. Baltimore failed to eclipse 126 air yards in any of the four games leading up to Week 18. That kind of production just won’t cut it against a team contending for its second-consecutive AFC championship.
Will Baltimore’s defense take over like in years past?
We always tend to make Baltimore synonymous with ‘shut-down defense,’ but the Ravens D stunk from the 2021 season through this campaign’s trade deadline. One trade changed everything, though, with Roquan Smith flying in from Chicago to light a fire under some purple and black butts. Baltimore has allowed 14.6 points per game since Smith hit the lineup, after surrendering 22.9 in its first eight games. Harbaugh and D-coordinator Mike Macdonald will need a gritty performance to slow down Burrow and his incredible pass-catching corps, highlighted by 2021 Rookie of the Year Ja’Marr Chase, stud WR2 Tee Higgins, and veteran slot-man Tyler Boyd. Cincy ranks in the top eight in the NFL in scoring and total yardage.
Ravens at Bengals: Stat that matters
28.7. That’s how many points the Bengals averaged at home this season, good for fourth in the NFL. The Ravens went 1-5 when they surrendered 23 or more points this season.
Ravens at Bengals prediction
The Ravens look like they will be going without Lamar Jackson once again, which spells trouble in Cincinnati. There will be no stopping the Joey Brr train, as it continues to sweep the nation like a massive cold front. Baltimore simply does not have enough weapons, nor does it have a potent enough passing attack. The question has never been whether Cincy wins this game, but rather by how much. With the Bengals healthy on offense and better equipped for a Super Bowl run on both sides of the ball than last season, my money’s on Burrow and company covering their 13th game of this glorious season. Light a cigar when you win!
PREDICTION: Bengals 27, Dolphins 13. Cincinnati covers the spread (-8.5) and the OVER hits (40.5). The OVER hits on Burrow victory cigars (-0.5). I made that last part up, but tell me that wouldn’t be the spread!