Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens meet for their final games of their 2011 NFL seasons in a game with huge post season implications. The Ravens are -3 point favorites over the Bengals with an over/under point total set at 39.5.
The Cincinnati Bengals have had a few chances to improve their position in the post season and though Marvin Lewis’ team hasn’t taken advantage of all of them, they control their own destiny with just one game left to play. The formula for the Bengals is simple, win and they or in as with a loss they would need a lot of help for there to be a next week. Rookie QB Andy Dalton may be one of the biggest surprises this year as he has completed 58.9 percent of his passes with 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Cedric Benson has rushed for 1,016 yards and six touchdowns and he has carried the load in the backfield. A.J. Green has 63 catches and seven touchdowns, Jermaine Gresham has 51 catches and six touchdowns, and Jerome Simpson has 45 catches. Defensively the Bengals have 44 sacks, 18 fumble recoveries, and 10 interceptions with a plus one turnover ratio and they allow 314.2 yards and 19.9 points per game. Thomas Howard has 94 tackles, Reggie Nelson has 83 tackles, and Rey Maualuga has 79 tackles despite missing some action this year. The Bengals have gotten a little too conservative at times but as there is no tomorrow the playbook should be wide open here.
The Baltimore Ravens have a chance to wrap up the AFC North and a first round bye in the playoffs with a win in this one or a Pittsburgh Steelers loss. The Ravens have played well for the most part but at times have looked lost on the road and have laid an egg even against lesser teams. Joe Flacco hasn’t looked his best but has had a lot of passes dropped as well and he’s completed 56.8 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Ray Rice is averaging 4.4 yards per carry for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns and Ricky Williams is averaging 4.1 yards per carry. Rice also has 74 catches while Anquan Boldin has 57 catches, Ed Dickson has 53 catches, and Torrey Smith has 45 catches. Defensively Baltimore has 47 sacks, 20 fumble recoveries, and 15 interceptions with a plus one turnover ratio and they allow 285.7 yards and 16.7 points per game. Ray Lewis has 88 tackles, Cary Williams has 72 tackles, and Terrell Suggs has 13 sacks. The Ravens’ defense is aging but they are still loaded though they may be running out of chances with this core of players.
Cincinnati is 8-2 against the spread following a win, 6-2-1 against the spread in their last nine games as an underdog, and 1-4-2 against the spread in their last seven games overall. Baltimore is 4-0-1 against the spread against a team with a winning record, 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine games as a favorite, and 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games against AFC teams. The underdog is 4-0-1 against the spread in the last five meetings of these two.
This one is going to be a defensive struggle and points will come at a premium and while the total is set aggressively low at 39.5, I see this one coming in under the number.