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After a rough start to the year with losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cooper Rush Dallas Cowboys, the defending AFC Champions have bounced back with big wins over the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Now they will be in a position on Sunday Night to actually take the division lead heading into Week 6.
Both Baltimore and Cincy are 2-2 so far, and the winner will emerge as the front runner for the AFC North. The Bengals have had a week and a half to prepare for the Ravens due to playing on Thursday night, and Baltimore is coming off a heart-breaking loss to the Buffalo Bills. It is hard to get a feel for this Bengals team in 2022. At times, they have looked like the team that made it all the way to the Super Bowl in 2021. At other times, they have legitimately looked awful. This game will be a test for both teams as to who they are.
The high-powered offense of the Bengals has not been so high-powered in 2022. In fact, the under is 4-0 in Bengals’ games this year. There has been a disconnect that we didn't see last year, and the running game has been almost nonexistent. RB Joe Mixon is in the midst of possibly his worst season as a pro, but is that on him, or is it on this atrocious offensive line. QB Joe Burrow has been constantly under pressure all season, which has really put a damper on the passing attack and the running game as well. They should be able to have at least some success against a very poor Ravens defense, but they haven't really shown it all year, even against the Jets.
When watching the Bengals, you just don't get that "special" vibe that we got from them last year. It's like the magic was all used up. Head coach Zac Taylor also should be put on notice. I don't think anyone really believes he's some great coach, and if he has a down year, he could be on the hot seat next season. His conservative play-calling also doesn't help him at all.
I think the Ravens are a good football team, but I don't think they are elite. The Ravens have looked dominant at times this year and have looked inept at others, just like Cincinnati. They have the QB play to get the job done, as Lamar Jackson looks like his MVP self early in the season. The problem is that they lack any real explosive weapons for him to throw to in the passing game, and the defense is the real culprit here.
The Ravens’ defense has been horrendous this year. They are 30th in yards per game, 25 in points per game, and 29th in yards per play. They can't stop anything, and it has led to blowing massive leads in multiple of their first four games. They blew a massive lead to the Miami Dolphins in Week 2, and then again just last week to the Bills. That leaves much to be desired about a team that got the QB right but can't put the pieces around him.
Baltimore and Cincinnati are 2-2 ATS and SU in their last four meetings. These teams have been very even in recent history, and the spread of this game indicates this one could be as well. 3 points are not much separating these teams, and I expect it to be another close battle. The Ravens are 2-0 ATS in their wins and 0-2 ATS in their losses, so if you think they are going to win, you might as well bet the spread.
Instead of betting the spread, I'm going to take the over in this one at 48. The Raven's offense has proven to be effective with Jackson in the MVP conversation, and you know he's going to want to show out in primetime. The Baltimore defense is terrible, and this could be the game that we see the Bengals offense really break out. I like both teams to put up some points in this one, which is the opposite of what we have seen this year in most games. It's time to break the mold.