Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction

by | Dec 30, 2020 | nfl

Baltimore Ravens (10-5 SU, 9-6 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-10-1 SU, 9-6 ATS)

Week 17 NFL

Date/Time: Sunday, January 3, 2021 at 1PM EST

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio

TV: CBS

Point Spread: BAL -13/CIN +13 (GTBets - Bet you Week 17 NFL picks for free! Deposit $100 to $500 and they’ll match you dollar-for-dollar with a 100% real cash bonus!)

Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Baltimore Ravens take on the Cincinnati Bengals on key week 17 action from Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday. After a major lull, the Ravens have kicked their season back into gear with four straight wins, including a 27-13 win over the Giants on Sunday. With Cleveland losing, the Ravens took control of their playoff destiny. But the Bengals have shown signs of being a spoiler, with a late-season spurt that includes wins over the Steelers and then the Texans on the road last week, 37-31. At home, can they spoil the Ravens’ chances, or is Baltimore going to emphatically win their way into the postseason?

Playoff Implications

Again, if the Ravens win, they’re in. After a fast 5-1 start to the season, hard times took the Ravens down to 6-5, throwing their playoff hopes into a tizzy. But four wins have them back in the thick of things. And beating the Browns in that stretch in a memorable game certainly helped. A precarious road to the playoffs now looks pretty good, with a win getting them in. And if they lose, they have the escape hatch of still getting in if the Browns or Colts lose. The Colts are playing Jacksonville, and the Browns are playing a Steelers team that is starting their backup and doesn’t stand to gain much from winning. In other words, winning this game is the pinnacle focus.

Good Signs From Baltimore Lately

Their recent surge could be partially a result of playing an inconsistent Cleveland team, mixed in with wins over the Cowboys, Jaguars, and Giants. However, to the naked eye, they look to have reclaimed some of their pep and might not be a team the higher seeds want to see in the playoffs. Their offense came out of the doldrums, and in the last four games, we’re seeing at least a little of what got people so excited in the first place. With 148 points in their last four games, we see Lamar Jackson flexing more of his aerial presence, especially in the red zone. We see Jackson busting loose with the some big runs with greater regularity. Jackson is now nearing 1000 yards on the ground, and with solid backup with Gus Edwards, JK Dobbins (questionable), and Mark Ingram, they are the top running team in the league.

A late-surging defense has also been key. And the last few seasons, we see this side of the ball really tighten it down, heading down the stretch. In their last five games, four opponents have been held to 17 or fewer points. Sure, there was that giant offensive explosion by Cleveland where the Ravens won a big shootout, but against teams like Cincinnati and other squads who typically struggle, this Baltimore defense hasn’t been a picnic. Only three teams in the league have allowed fewer points than the Ravens.

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Can the Bengals Be Dangerous in This Spot?

Granted, sticking it to a suddenly-impotent Steelers’ team and beating a wayward Texans squad doesn’t mean a lot in the big picture, but it shows the Bengals are able to show some life. I’m sure the Ravens would prefer to face the Cincy team of not long ago, as the Bengals managed a pathetic 50 points in their last five games leading up to their recent two-game streak. Sixty-four points in their last two games convey a different offense than what we’ve seen since Joe Burrow was injured. In short, the team we’ve seen the last two weeks is in many ways the ideal spoiler in the event that the Ravens fall flat.

Last week, in particular, was eye-opening. Cincinnati QB Brandon Allen threw for 371 yards, connecting well with Tee Higgins, AJ Green, and Alex Erickson. The run-game was superb, with Giovanni Bernard and Samaje Perine getting it done on the ground and with short passes from Allen. Suddenly, we’ve seen the Bengals’ offensive line able to keep a clean pocket and open up holes for the running game. It’s been quite a turnaround for a Cincy team that was really struggling to find any success whatsoever on this side of the ball. But even with Burrow earlier in the season, the Bengals managed a mere three points in a loss to the Ravens in Baltimore.

The Cincy defense could really be up against it with a Baltimore offense that has gotten its act together. Even in giving up 31 points last week in winning fashion, this defense showed the liabilities that have plagued them for much of the season. While not downright terrible and capable of good play in stretches, there isn’t much they do very well. They’re leaky against the pass, and the real bad news for the purposes of this game is that they’re even worse against the run. They don’t make a lot of big plays generally. But they’re at least still out there trying, and they’ve shown flashes of resistance and playmaking ability the last few weeks.

Lay the Points on the Road Favorite

These Week 17 games can be tricky. The component of urgency doesn’t always materialize as you would hope. And the opponent sometimes doesn’t play ball. The Bengals have shown some spark, and in a season that had little overall success, this would be nice punctuation. But I think the Ravens’ recent surge, certain matchup advantages, and a heightened sense of urgency will, in fact, resonate. I look for them to start fast, keep Cincinnati out of the game, and cruise to the finish line with the win and cover on Sunday.

Loot’s Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Baltimore Ravens minus 13 points. Bet this game and ALL your sports bets at reduced odds -105 (instead of the more expensive -110 that you’re laying) at one of the web’s best betting sites: BetAnySports!

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