Ravens-Bengals Betting Preview & Pick: Defensive Struggle in Cincinnati?
It was a great opening week for picks at 4for4.com. Following the Jets’ blowout win over the Lions as a 7-point underdog, I finished Week 1 with a perfect 5-0 record. While every week won’t be that profitable, I’d say we’re off to a good start to the season.
Week 2 kicks off tonight with an AFC North matchup in Cincinnati, where the Bengals host the Ravens at 8:20 p.m. ET. While the point spread has moved significantly in this game, the true betting value to me is in the total.
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
- Point Spread: Bengals -1
- O/U: 45
- Time: Thursday, 8:20 p.m. ET
The line movement for this game has been interesting. Cincinnati opened as a 3-point home underdog but the line was quickly bet down to a pick’em. As of Thursday morning, the Bengals are now a 1-point favorite.
What makes the line movement even more interesting is the fact that 71% of the betting tickets are on the Ravens. Thus, the line movement indicates sharp action on the Bengals, as oddsmakers have been forced to adjust the line despite the majority of tickets coming in on Baltimore.
The Ravens will be without starting tight end Hayden Hurst, who missed last week’s win over Buffalo because of a foot injury. Backup running back Kenneth Dixon was placed on injured reserve Wednesday with a knee injury.
For the Bengals, defensive end Carlos Dunlap (calf) and cornerback Darqueze Dennard (neck) will play on Thursday night. Linebacker Preston Brown is questionable with an ankle injury while Vontaze Burfict will serve the second game of his current four-game suspension.
The Ravens have failed to cover the spread in nine of their last 13 games against the Bengals in Cincinnati. The underdog is also 7–1 against the number in the last eight meetings between these two teams while the under is 4–1 in the last five previous games.
The additions the Ravens made offensively this offseason have already paid dividends, as John Brown and Willie Snead both found the end zone in last week’s blowout win over Buffalo. Michael Crabtree was also a nice signing after he was dumped by the Raiders and Alex Collins remains an underrated piece of their offense. With Joe Mixon, A.J. Green and John Ross featured in their offense, the Bengals have a nice collection of skill position players as well.
That said, both teams will step up in class this week. In their season-opener, the Ravens benefited from facing the Bills, who will likely compete for the first overall pick in next April’s NFL Draft. The Ravens won’t score 47 points tonight against a Cincinnati team that has a solid secondary and also owns the matchup between Dunlap and right tackle James Hurst.
The Bengals will find it more difficult to move the ball against the Ravens than they did the Colts, too. Baltimore’s front four dominated Buffalo’s offensive line last week and Cincinnati’s front five was one of the bigger question marks coming into this season. The Bengals struggled mightily up front a year ago and the jury is still out on whether or not they’ve significantly improved in front of Andy Dalton.
I envision these teams leaning heavily on their running backs and defense tonight and with both coming off a short week of practice and preparation, I see this game falling under the betting total.
Pick: Under 45
2018 Season Record
Week 1: 5–0
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.