Somehow, someway, the Ravens and Bengals enter Week 16 tied atop the AFC North. But with both teams at 8-6, the 7-6-1 Steelers and the 7-7 Browns are right there.
In such a crowded division, these divisional games become that much more important. Cincinnati destroyed Baltimore back in October, so this could be a Ravens revenge spot.
However, that idea gets messy when you consider Lamar Jackson is likely still out with an ankle injury. That would leave Tyler Huntley as the starter, who has been more than adequate, but it’s still important to keep an eye on the injury report.
If we’re assuming Jackson won’t play, how does this game play out?
Please note that all NFL gameday odds are current as of 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 23.
Ravens vs Bengals Prediction
All the Ravens do is play close games, as their last five games have been decided by a total of 13 points. And with a total hovering in the low-40s, we can expect a rock fight in this one.
Cincinnati will be prepared for that scenario after losing 26-23 to the Niners and winning 15-10 over Denver.
However, this rivalry has never played out that way. The last five meetings between the two have finished:
- 41-17 Bengals
- 38-3 Ravens
- 27-3 Ravens
- 49-13 Ravens
- 23-17 Ravens
While it’s clear this matchup has been one-sided, I’m not expecting the same here.
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Joe Burrow can play toe-to-toe with Huntley, but the Bengals have a big advantage on defense. Cincy boasts a top-10 defense in both EPA per play allowed and Success Rate allowed, and it’s top five in Rush Success Rate allowed. The stingy front seven should hold Baltimore’s rush-heavy attack at bay.
Meanwhile, the Ravens have wildly underachieved on the defensive end. Baltimore is currently 27th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA, and the team is especially weak in the secondary (24th in passing EPA per play allowed, 24th in PFF’s coverage grades).
That side of the ball will decide this game.
Prediction: Bengals 14, Ravens 10
Ravens vs Bengals Best Bets
Best Bet: Bengals -3 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
I’ve seen sharp money come in on the Bengals, pushing this line from -2. From what I mentioned above, it’d be wise to follow the smart money.
You may be tempted to bet the Ravens after three straight losses. But don’t take the bait, as Baltimore must be exhausted after the recent schedule. In those three losses, the Ravens played the Steelers, Browns, and Packers.
What’s more interesting is that this will be a step up in competition. All three aforementioned teams trail Cincy in the important defensive metrics (DVOA, EPA per play allowed, and Success Rate allowed).
If I’m getting a field goal or less with the Bengals, I’ll play them.
Best Bet: Under 45 Total Points (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
While this game does feature decent quarterbacks in Huntley and Burrow, I still believe points will come at a premium.
While the Ravens are weak in the secondary, and could let up explosive plays as a result, they still boast a top-10 rush offense per Rush EPA per play allowed. If Joe Mixon can’t get going, that’ll put extra pressure on Burrow to carry the offense. That formula has failed in the past.
Meanwhile, I don’t have to repeat myself about the Bengals defense.
Finally, divisional Unders in Week 11 or later have hit at a 61% clip since 2006. Three of the last five games between these two have gone Under, and I like that trend to continue.