Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-3, 44.5)
“Without Terrell Suggs, other guys have to step up.”
That was the script that the Baltimore Ravens (0-2, 0-0 Home) stuck to all week. But when Sunday rolled around, the only place the Ravens’ defensive players stepped was out of Derek Carr’s way; the Oakland QB carved them up for 448 yards of total offense en route to a 37-33 upset, sending John Harbaugh to his first 0-2 start in eight seasons as the Baltimore head coach.
The Ravens head home this week look to reverse their fortunes, but it won’t be an easy task against a division rival that has owned them in recent years. The Cincinnati Bengals (2-0, 1-0 Away) can take a commanding three-game lead over the Ravens when they visit M&T Bank Stadium this Sunday (Sept. 27, 1:00 PM Eastern).
The Bengals have won four of the past five games against Baltimore, including a season sweep last year. (Cincy also went 4-1 ATS over that stretch.) However, before last year, the Ravens had won four straight over the Bengals at M&T. And staring an 0-3 start in the face (which is pretty much a guarantee you won’t be in the playoffs), this team will be all-in this weekend.
It’s not that the Ravens need to improve that much. They just need to be cohesive. In Game 1, the defense was outstanding in a 19-13 loss to Denver; last week, the offense compiled 493 yards and 33 points (which could’ve been more had the D gotten off the field on third down). If both units could both put up decent efforts in the same game, Baltimore would be fine.
Of course, the Bengals have already been playing well on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has yet to turn the ball over, and tossed another three touchdowns last week in a 24-19 win over the Chargers. Cincy’s D managed three takeaways on the day and helped the team to their second straight 2-0 start.
The Bengals passing game looks more balanced this year thanks to third-year tight end Tyler Eifert, who has drawn even more targets than A.J. Green through two games. Eifert should stay heavily involved in Cincy’s attack this week, although Dalton may tempted to pick on Baltimore’s cornerbacks after both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper had 100-yard games last weekend. This secondary struggles prompted the Ravens to trade for the Dolphins’ CB Will Allen this week.
This game is difficult to pick just because of the history of these teams. A loss would send the Ravens three games below .500 – which would be another first under John Harbaugh – and essentially ruin their chances of making the playoffs – something they’ve done six of the last seven seasons.
The Bengals are a talented team, but they’ve rarely been able to step on the throat of a divisional opponent. Last year, Cincy could’ve finished off the Steelers, but lost to Pittsburgh twice down the stretch and surrendered the AFC North.
It’s a must-win game for one of these teams; bet on that one.
Pick: Ravens -3.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Originally posted to Flick.)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)
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