The Baltimore Ravens will look to avenge a Week 2 loss when they host the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. The Ravens have already locked themselves into the postseason, but a win this week and a Steelers loss at Cleveland would give Baltimore the No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
The Bengals haven’t seemed to give up on a miserable season, as they head into the final week of the season off two straight wins, including an impressive 34-20 win over the Chargers last week. Cincinnati beat Baltimore 15-10 earlier this season, but a lot has changed since that game. If you are thinking about betting on the game this weekend, the current NFL odds have the Ravens favored by 10-points over the Bengals at home.
It's hard to remember that the Bengals won the AFC North last season after the way they have played this season. Head coach Marvin Lewis could very well be coaching his final game with the Bengals, as many believe he won’t be kept regardless if the Bengals beat the Ravens and end the season on a three game winning streak.
The Bengals went out this past offseason and added wide out Terrell Owens in hopes of forming a dynamic duo with Chad Ochocinco, but it really never lived up to its hype. A big reason for that has been the play of quarterback Carson Palmer and the struggles of running back Cedric Benson.
However, last week in the Bengals' win over the Chargers, Palmer was without both Owens and Ochocinco and put up his best game of the season, throwing for 269 yards and four touchdowns. While Owens has been placed on IR, it's unclear whether Ochocinco will be able to go.
The Bengals defense really played well against the Ravens the first time around, forcing Joe Flacco into four interceptions and holding the Ravens offense to just 259 yards of total offense. If the defense can step up again this time around, don’t be surprised to see the Bengals make a game of it.
The Ravens have stated that they are going to play their starters and come out and try to win this game, as they want to finish the season and head into the playoffs on a four-game winning streak. I think it’s the right move, as I wouldn’t count the Steelers as a lock to win this week against the Browns.
You have to expect a much better game out of Flacco and the Ravens offense this time around, as the Ravens have scored at least 20 points in each of their last three games. Ray Rice ran for 87 yards and caught 4 passes for 30 yards against the Bengals earlier this season, and I thin you can expect Baltimore to try and get Rice going early in this one, as it will only open up the passing lanes for Flacco.
The Ravens defense did a great job holding the Bengals to just five field goals in the first meeting, but it will be interesting to see how they do against a Bengals passing game that looked as good as it has all season last week. Baltimore has had its struggles against the pass at times this season, and I think the key will be getting pressure on Palmer and forcing him into making some early mistakes.
Looking at the Odds
I think the Bengals' win over the Chargers will have a lot of people jumping on them this week, especially since they are getting 10 points, but I think Baltimore is the play in this one. Not only are the Ravens playing for a chance to get a first round bye, they likely aren’t all that happy after what Cincinnati did to them earlier this season. My final score prediction is Baltimore 28, Cincinnati 13.
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