Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Pick

NFL Football Betting Preview
Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Sunday November 8th, 1:00PM Eastern betting line – Baltimore -3, 44 O/U

If you ask anybody before the season started which team would be leading the AFC North after the first half of the season, the most likely answer you would have got is the Pittsburgh Steelers as the defending Super Bowl Champions. There may been a few who would have leaned to the Baltimore Ravens who played well in 2008, but I’m sure nobody would have gave the Cincinnati Bengals enough credit to top the AFC North. However, the Bengals are a top the division at 5-2 with wins over Pittsburgh and Green Bay. Cincinnati has not put up any type of staggering numbers on either side of the ball, but has won important games. However, they will get another true division test this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens come rolling into town.

The Ravens suffered a nasty stretch of games dropping 3 straight games to the Patriots, Vikings, and the Bengals in the first meeting between the two teams this season. In that meeting, Bengals QB Carson Palmer led the comeback efforts hooking up with Andre Caldwell for a 20 yard touchdown with 22 seconds remaining to capture a 17-14 victory for Cincinnati. However, the Ravens will seek revenge this week and try to get back to the top of the division race. Baltimore will need to get a better performance from quarterback Joe Flacco in this meeting. Flacco has been very strong on the season throwing 12 touchdowns in the midst of racking up 1,849 yards. However, Flacco threw 2 picks to just 1 touchdown against the Bengals in the last meeting and the turnovers came during crucial parts of the game. Baltimore’s passing game has been a difference in their continuous improving offense and they will need Flacco to find star WR Derrick Mason often this Sunday.

The Ravens defense showed the first signs of dominance last week holding the Broncos to just 7 points. Baltimore dominated nearly every defense category behind Pittsburgh last year, but has not been as effective in 2009. The Ravens have allowed 20 points on average this season, but if they can have another similar performance as they did a week ago against Denver they should hold the advantage. On the other side of the field, the Bengals defense has been very vulnerable allowing 253 yards per game in the secondary which is among the 3rd worse in the NFL. However even after relinquishing a ton of yards through the air, Cincinnati has only allowed 18.3 points per game which ranks 6th in the NFL. If the Bengals allow the Ravens to move the ball through the air, the defense must keep Baltimore from scoring touchdowns and settling for field goals.

On offense, the Bengals may be expected to score points this week than the last meeting. In the Bengals 5 wins this season they are averaging 27 points per contest. However, in the two losses they have only scored 24 points combined. Running back Cedric Benson has really helped the entire offense open up this season. Benson is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and has racked up 720 yards on the season. In Benson’s two worse games of the year, the Bengals have lost. When he runs well, Carson Palmer and the passing offense are most effective. Palmer is completing 61% on the year and has 13 touchdowns to 7 picks. Chad Ochocinco is the primary target with Houshmandzadeh out of the picture this season and has benefited with 574 yards already this season which is also more than he had all of 2008. Ochocinco was lit up in a big hit by Ravens LB Ray Lewis in the first meeting that drew a lot of controversy, but will Ochocinco get the last laugh again this week or will the Ravens fire back to steal the win.

Pick – Baltimore -3

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