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Ravens-Bengals Square Up in AFC North Battle

After putting a 44-point beatdown on the Buffalo Bills, the Baltimore Ravens will see if their defense can show up on the road when they face the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. The Ravens have been trending in the wrong direction when it comes to their AFC North rivals, dropping seven of the last nine games in this matchup and five of the last six at Paul Brown Stadium. Despite those results, oddsmakers have still tabbed the Ravens as 1.5-point faves with an opening total of 44 points.

SHARK BITES
  • Baltimore is 2-7 SU in its last nine games vs Cincinnati.
  • Cincinnati is 7-3 SU and 8-1-1 ATS in its last 10 games at home as an underdog.
  • The total has gone UNDER in three of the last four games in this matchup.

Ravens vs Bengals Game Center

Ravens Haven’t Performed Well in this Matchup

Based just on Week 1’s performance, the Baltimore Ravens are winning the Super Bowl. Hyperbole and overreaction aside, the Ravens looked very impressive after throttling the Bills 47-3 and appear to be a team back in the conversation in the AFC title race. Baltimore’s suffocating defense held the Bills to 153 yards of total offense with Buffalo not able to manage a first down until the second half.

So, while it’s easy to get caught up in one game, the question for Ravens backers is will Baltimore’s defense show up? Last season, the Ravens destroyed the Bengals in Cincinnati by shutting them out 20-0 and only allowed 19.6 points per game in eight road games in 2017. But bettors will remember Week 17 last year when the Ravens coughed up a lead to go on and lose 31-27 to the Bengals, which cost Baltimore its ticket to the postseason.

With last season’s split, the Ravens are now 2-7 SU in the last nine games in this matchup (average margin of 8.5 points per loss) and have dropped five of their last six games at Paul Brown Stadium (average margin of 10.4 points per loss).

Based on career stats vs AFC North teams, Joe Flacco has struggled the worst against Cincy in his time in the NFL, with a 19-to-23 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 60.3 completion percentage in 19 games, which are both his lowest figures against divisional opponents. Bettors may want to be cautious if you’re banking on an otherworldly performance from the Ravens QB.

Bengals at Home Are A Spread Bettor’s Best Friend

When you think of the Bungles, I mean, Bengals (sorry, Freudian slip), the first thing that comes to mind is how they can’t win a playoff game. But this could be a decent bounce-back year for Cincy as they have retooled in some key positions on their offensive/defensive lines while RB Joe Mixon looks like the real deal after he gashed the Colts defense for 149 yards from scrimmage. The Bengals took care of business in the second half when they scored four straight times and capped off Week 1 with a defensive touchdown with less than a minute to play.

Opening as +3 road dogs vs the Colts, the Bengals were a sneaky pick to cover the spread (which they did) but when they’re a dog at home, they have become a very reliable wager as they’re 7-3 SU and 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 games. However, at the end of the day, this team will only go as far as Andy Dalton will take them as the eighth-year starter has only completed 57 percent of his passes vs the Ravens defense in his career to go with a 15-to-17 TD-to-interception ratio.

Expect a Low-Scoring Affair in AFC North Clash

The total opened at 44 points and the UNDER looks very attractive for totals bettors. The total has gone UNDER in three of the last four games in this matchup with an average combined score of 37 points per game. The Bengals also seem to have a penchant for being involved in low-scoring games when played in prime time as the UNDER has hit in six of their last seven games at night with an average combined score of 32.5 points per game going back to December 2015.

My Pick Is…

To take the UNDER 44 points. AFC North divisional games are usually a slam-down, drag-it-out style of football with each matchup typically harboring bad blood. Since both of these squads are defensive-oriented teams and considering the propensity for Thursday Night Football to be sloppy, I’d get on this UNDER now before the total drops closer to 40 points.