Week 12 (11/27/16): Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens – Game analysis, and betting prediction
Once a tough division battle, between two top teams in the AFC competing for a playoff spot… Is now just another game on the schedule. While the Ravens find themselves right in the thick of the playoff hunt, the Bengals find themselves playing for draft position. However, if you’re a fan of old-school, hard-nosed, defensive football… This is the game of the week.
Can the Bengals Land the Number 2 Pick?
Having made the playoffs every year since 2010, many predicted the Bengals would make it 6 straight years with a playoff berth… Well, things haven’t gone as planned. They’re 3-6-1.
Coming into Sunday, the Bengals have lost (or tied) 3 straight, and will now be without leading receiver A.J. Green, and best receiving back, Giovani Bernard. While Green may return this season, Bernard will not; terrible hand for an already inept offense.
While the Bengals offense has been inefficient to say the least, and will now almost undoubtedly be unbearable, their defense has been pretty solid. Over the past 4 weeks, they’ve allowed over 21 points just once, and have allowed over 28 just once on the season (at New England). For that reason, the answer is no. They won’t land the #2 pick, but they won’t be far off.
Is the Ravens Offense Any Better?
No. They’re not. With former Super Bowl MVP QB Joe Flacco at the helm, a future Hall of Fame WR in Steve Smith, and a top-tier TE in Dennis Pitta, on paper, the Ravens should be much more prolific than they are… They’re averaging 19.9 points per game – tied for 8th worst in the league with you guessed it, Cincinnati.
The difference between the 5-5 Ravens, and the 3-6-1 Bengals? Well, strength of schedule for one, but where the Bengals defense has been solid, the Ravens have been amongst the best in the league. And, they’ll get one of their best players back this week, Elvis Dumervil.
Well, Who Wins and Why…
Cincinnati has won 5 straight meetings in this series, and has covered the spread in 4 of the last 5. So, history says Cincy. The line opened with Baltimore as 3 point favorites, and has shifted to 3.5 with the Ravens receiving 67% of the spread bets.
Given the history between these teams, the lopsided public betting, and the surprisingly low spread I’m staying away. Just doesn’t smell right, but if I had to choose, I’d buy the half point and jump on the Ravens at -3.
Luckily, I don’t have to choose, but I can’t pass up the under. With only 53% of the bets, the total has dropped to 40.5, after opening at 41.5 – which is an indication that the sharp money is on the under. Analytics aside, if either team scores over 20, I’ll be highly surprised. As always, buy the hook though.
Pick: Under 41 (-120)
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