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By: Ryan Watkins
Two division rivals take the TNF stage as the Baltimore Ravens welcome the Cincinatti Bengals in what is sure to be a great contest with playoff implications
Welcome to Week 11, Bolts From the Blue!
Thanks to the dismal display of football we had to endure during last week’s Thursday Night Football, this week’s game has been made to seem even more enticing than it already is. The Baltimore Ravens are hosting their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, at M&T Bank Stadium in what is sure to be a fascinating game with huge division title implications despite there being another two months of the regular season left to play. Both of these sides were coming into the game in excellent form having won four straight before they both lost to shocking second half comebacks against other AFC teams competing for playoff spots.
The Baltimore Ravens were one of the hottest teams in the league going into Week 10’s game against another AFC North rival in the Cleveland Browns. They actually held a 97.1% win probability when they sacked DeShaun Watson early in the fourth quarter with a 31-17 lead but the Browns’ quarterback was able to lead his team to victory. From a Ravens’ perspective, the most concerning aspect of this game was their vaunted defense gave up scores on five out of the last six drives to an injured quarterback who was leading a side with only 185 passing yards per game. On the other side of the ball a concerning outcome was that the offense completely stalled in the second half gaining only 50 yards in the final 17 minutes of the game. Lamar Jackson was playing at an MVP level before this end of game stretch and he shouldn’t be thrown out of it completely because his two interception performance came against the only defense better than the one he faces every day in practice.
So the question is was this an anomaly or is this who the Ravens are becoming as their schedule gets a lot tougher? I always show caution to form involving division rivals especially when they have played each other already this season but on this occasion it is definitely relevant as they now go into a matchup against an even stronger division rival.
The Cincinnati Bengals have very much been a team that has grown into the season as their franchise quarterback, Joe Burrow, has gotten healthier. They started 1-3 but have since gone 4-1 to pull themselves well in contention for a playoff spot however their loss to the Houston Texans stalled their momentum. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and running back Devin Singletary took their defense apart for 544 yards so not even a fourth quarter pick from the impressive Cam Taylor-Britt could save the day for the Bengals.
With Tee Higgins missing this game amongst a slew of receiver injuries Joe Burrow will have to operate like Justin Herbert and find success without stars wherever he looks if he wants to walk out of Baltimore with a win. Joe Mixon and the running game have failed to get going this season never surpassing the 100 yard mark and averaging a lowly 3.9 yards per carry. Zac Taylor’s reliance on the passing game will really be put to the test this week as the Ravens are not the team to expect a rushing resurgence against.
DraftKings Sportsbook has the Ravens as 3.5 point favorites at -110 and I think for once, I am not going to argue with their oddsmakers. I think this is a very generous line as I see the Ravens running out winners by over a touchdown due to their defense being able to prey on the Bengals’ inability to run the ball (they rank last in yards per game) and their lack of healthy receiving options. The matchup is just as one sided on the other side of the ball too, the Ravens are the best running team in the league with a huge 158.3 yards per game and the Bengals have been the swiss cheese in stopping the run allowing 136.3 yards per game, third worst of any team. I have taken the over 46 points on offer too at -112 as the Bengals put up 24 points in a loss last time the two sides met and their offense has improved since then.
Injuries to consider
Trenton Simpson and Ronnie Stanley have been ruled out. Marlon Humphrey is Doubtful. Devin Duvernay, Daryl Worley, John Simpson and Kyle Van Noy are all Questionable.
Sam Hubbard, Andrei Iosivas and Tee Higgins have all been rule Out. Charlie Jones is questionable despite still remaining on IR.
Here is how the BFTB staff sees this game breaking down:
What do you think, BFTB? Any of you placing bets tonight?
Originally posted on Bolts From The Blue – All Posts