It’s come down to Week 17 for key playoff match-ups in the AFC, and perhaps no game looms larger on Sunday than a big divisional clash between the Ravens and the Bengals. Baltimore has had to endure their fair share of difficulties in 2013, showing a lot more weaknesses than they had last season as Super Bowl champions. They’ve had many peaks and valleys, but they still have an opportunity to secure a post-season berth with a solid outing against Cincinnati on Sunday. That said, this won’t be an easy task. The Ravens have struggled all year away from home, while the Bengals are one of the league’s best squads in front of their hometown fans. Cincy and Baltimore are also bitter AFC North rivals and you can bet the Bengals will certainly relish the opportunity to put the final nail in the coffin for Baltimore’s 2013 campaign. It promises to be a tense Sunday in the NFL with all 32 teams in action and we’ve got you covered here at The Sports Geek. Read on below for an official selection and additional game thoughts in this crucial contest.
Ravens at Bengals Betting Odds:
Baltimore Ravens +6.5 (-110)
@ Cincinnati Bengals -6.5 (-110)
Over 44.0 (-110)
Under 44.0 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Ravens at Bengals Pick:
It’s a pivotal contest between two hated divisional rivals – drama at its finest in Week 17 of the NFL season. The Ravens enter desperately needing to secure a victory in order to give themselves a shot at trying to defend last year’s title. Although it won’t be easy, as they’ll need help from other teams as well and the Bengals aren’t just going to roll over in front of their home fans for them. The Bengals and Ravens have a bitter rivalry and expect Cincinnati to be licking their chops to put the final touches on Baltimore’s season. It should also be noted as far as playoff scenarios go, that the Bengals still have a legitimate shot at securing a first round bye so expect a very solid outing from Cincinnati.
To be blunt, this season from the Ravens has been a colossal disappointment. Though they have shown glimpses of being the team they were in 2012, there’s been minimal consistency to their game, and have major flaws teams like Cincinnati should have no problems exposing. The Ravens have been embarrassing away from home in 2013 – posting a brutal 2-5 record. Rumours have also been circulating throughout the Baltimore camp that key quarterback Joe Flacco is nursing a pretty banged-up knee at the moment. If Flacco’s health hasn’t drastically improved, it’s lights out on Baltimore’s season. The Bengals bring a ton of pressure to the quarterback and make it look easy in the process. The Ravens’ offensive line is quite porous, and expect Cincinnati to pressure an immobile Flacco for all four quarters on Sunday. In years’ past the Ravens could easily just rely on Ray Rice, though Rice hasn’t looked like himself in 2013. He’s struggled mightily and lacked explosiveness. The Bengals should be able to nullify Baltimore for all aspects of their offense.
Another big surprise of 2013 for Baltimore has been the incompetence of their defense. This team really struggles to get stops, and it’s been especially apparent of late. Teams are simply running all over the Ravens right now, and with the Bengals boasting a solid duo of Giovanni Bernard and Benjarvus Green-Ellis, it could be another long day for the Ravens’ run-stopping unit. Lastly, the Ravens still don’t have anybody to come close to covering the super-talented A.J. Green. Green-to-Dalton is becoming quite the connection in the NFL, and with Baltimore’s massive struggles at the safety position, expect some big plays and deep balls thrown Green’s way on Sunday.
Cincinnati has put up at least 41 points in each of their past four home games. They’re simply dominant at Paul Brown Stadium and should be able to embarrass Baltimore on Sunday. And while Baltimore did beat Cincinnati earlier this season at home, they only managed 189 yards of offense and were helped along by three Andy Dalton interceptions’. Don’t bank on that occurring this time around, take the Bengals by at least a touchdown.
PICK = Bengals -6.5 (-110)