Cincinnati Bengals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date and Time: Sunday, September 7, 1:00pm
Where: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, MD
by Bob, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN +2 / BAL -2
Over/Under Total: 43
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The NFL is full of some great week one match-ups. The Saints and Falcons, the 49ers and Cowboys, and this one, which I think could be the best of all, when the Cincinnati Bengals travel into Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Ravens are just one full season removed from winning the Super Bowl, and the Bengals believe they are becoming one of the best teams in all of the AFC. Baltimore comes into this contest as a home field, two point favorite, while the total points are set at 43. Both of these teams believe they could win the AFC North and a win here in week one could boost either team early. Let’s break down this match-up and see who has the overall edge to win and cover this spread.
The Cincinnati Bengals are sore of the new kids on the block when it comes to AFC contenders. For a decade now, the AFC North has pretty much been a battle between the Steelers and Ravens. The Bengals have just locked up their quarterback long term. Where many people are not completely sold on Andy Dalton, the Cincinnati front office just a few weeks ago showed the world they stand behind the kid by giving him a six year, $115 million dollar contract. Not only did the front office show faith in him, All-Pro wide out, AJ Green stated that he would not want to catch passes from anyone but Dalton. Last season, Andy Dalton threw for over 4,000 yards and 33 touchdown passes. That was good enough to have a top ten passing attack in the NFL. Along with the great season from Dalton, AJ Green scored 11 touchdowns and caught passes from Dalton for over 1,400 yards. These stellar performances led the Bengals to an 11-5 record and the AFC North title. However, they were ousted in the first round of the playoffs when they lost to San Diego 27-10. Cincinnati looks to have a better post season showing in the 2014 campaign. It is apparent that the Bengals can move the ball and score, but what really makes this team legit is the fact that they play pretty darn good defense too. Last season they ranked 5th in the NFL in not only passing defense, but they also finished 5th in rushing defense…and much of this without their stud defensive lineman, Geno Atkins. Now Atkins is back and the Bengals claim to be primed for a Super Bowl run. We shall see.
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The Baltimore Ravens still consider themselves the class of the AFC North simply because they have the most recent Lombardi Trophy from two seasons ago. Last season the Ravens finished with a record of 8-8 and missed the AFC playoffs. It is not uncommon for defending champs to have a hangover and fall short of expectations. With that said, the Ravens claim to have a new found swagger and and ready to compete once again. If the Ravens plan to win more than eight games though, they must improve on some of last season’s numbers. Baltimore last season was still decent on defense ranking slightly above the league average in both rushing and passing defense. The downfall for the Ravens was the lack of offense. They ranked just 30th in the NFL in rushing yards gaining just over 80 yards a game. The passing was somewhat better than the rushing, but they still only ranked 18th in the NFL, and this coming just after the Ravens gave quarterback, Joe Flacco his big payday. Flacco needs a better 2014, not only to get the Ravens back in contention, but to get some of the fans and media off his back for taking all that cash and then playing as bad as he did. The key to this game is for the Baltimore defense to slow down AJ Green and the Bengals passing attack. The last thing the Ravens need in this game is to get into a shootout…they don’t have the fire power to compete.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I love how the NFL gives us these great inner division games right from the start. Both of these teams want this game in a bad way. Baltimore wants to prove they are back, while the Bengals want to prove that 2013 was no fluke. Last season the home team won both games between these two. Baltimore won the first match-up 20-17 in overtime, while the Bengals took the regular season finale by a score of 34-17 in a game where Dalton threw 4 picks but still found a way to get the 17 point victory. This game is a toss up, and in most cases, I would take the home team in a division game but I really like Cincinnati this season. I like them to repeat as AFC North champs and I also like them to make some noise in the playoffs this year. Take the Bengals plus the 2 points in this one…I think Cincy wins this game 23-20!! PICK: BENGALS +2