Baltimore Ravens (11-4) vs Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)
There is a lot on the line this Sunday when the Baltimore Ravens travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals. The Bengals need a win to guarantee a playoff spot, while the Ravens need a win to earn home field advantage in the playoffs.
There will be no resting starters here. It will be an all out fight to the end in Cincinnati. This should be one of the best games of the weekend.
Time/Date: 4:15 PM EST, January 1, 2012
Venue: Paul Brown Stadium
Ravens vs. Bengals Gambling Odds from Bookmaker
Spread: Ravens -2
Moneyline: Ravens (-130) Bengals (+110)
Baltimore is 11-4 on the season, but they are just 3-4 on the road. Clearly, this is a team that definitely needs to get home field advantage in the playoffs. This is a game they badly need to win. Quarterback Joe Flacco has had his worst year as a professional this year. Flacco has been extremely inconsistent, and he is completing just 56.8% of his pass attempts. Can he be trusted to win a big game in the playoffs? Many experts don’t believe he can at this point. Ray Rice has put together a tremendous season in the backfield. Rice leads the team in rushing yards and receptions this year. He is probably the most versatile running back in the NFL.
The reason Baltimore has 11 wins is the spectacular play of their defense. Terrell Suggs leads the team with 13 sacks, and he has had the best year of a highly successful career. Ray Lewis isn’t quite the player he once was, but he leads the team with 67 tackles this season. This is a defense that thrives on forcing turnovers. Haloti Ngata has two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. LaDarius Webb leads an impressive secondary with five interceptions. Baltimore allows just 16.7 points per game.
Andy Dalton came into a difficult situation and Cincinnati, but he has had an amazing first year with the Bengals. Dalton wasn’t picked until the second round, but he’ll get some serious consideration for Rookie of the Year in the NFL this season. Dalton has racked up 20 touchdown passes against just 13 interceptions. It has definitely helped to have star receiver A.J. Green on the outside. Green is only a rookie as well, but he has 63 catches for 1,031 yards. Jermaine Gresham has become a security blanket over the middle of the field for the Bengals. Cedric Benson had some problems with ball security last week. The Bengals must get a good performance out of him this week if they hope to win.
Cincinnati’s defense has suffered some major injuries, but this unit has done a nice job staying together of late. Leon Hall, Pat Sims, and Keith Rivers are out for the year with injuries. Reggie Nelson has revived his career with a strong season at the safety spot for Cincinnati this year. Nelson has 12 pass deflections and four interceptions. Thomas Howard and Rey Maualuga have been leaders at the linebacker position. The Bengals have allowed just 19.9 points per game this year.
I like both defenses a lot, but I think 37.5 is a little bit too low for this one. The last meeting between these two finished at 31-24. Look for this one to get into the 40’s.
Free NFL Pick: Over 37.5