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Week 9 NFL Spreads: Ravens vs. Bengals


Guess we’ll see what the Cincinnati Bengals are made of over the next two weeks. Even the Bengals concede that important AFC North games against Baltimore on Sunday and Pittsburgh the following week will go a long way toward shaping the division for the second half of the season and in particular determining just how far the franchise has come in re-shaping a team that has been in disarray for several years.


Time: Sunday 1:05 ET
Venue: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
MoneyLine: Bengals -120 (-110) / Ravens -140 (-105)
Opening Spread: Ravens -3
Over/Under: 43.5

There are no excuses for the Bengals. They are coming off their bye week and should be rested, the offense is humming behind a solid ground game, and Carson Palmer finally seems recovered from a string of injuries that had everyone wondering whether or not he’d ever again be a top-tier NFL quarterback.

Oddsmakers have made the Ravens a field-goal pick in this one, a somewhat strange line given the Bengals’ 17-14 victory in Baltimore less than a month ago. Cedric Benson basically owned that game with 120 yards on 27 carries, but Palmer was also effective (18 for 31 for 271 yards and a TD). Still, Baltimore probably would have won it were it not for a string of penalties (10, for 76 yards) and the linemakers obviously see them bouncing back Sunday. Early money is on the Ravens to cover the 3, though how they are perceived by the betting public is of little concern to the Bengals right now.

Cincinnati’s hopes of ending a nearly two-decade-long drought without a playoff victory hinge on the health of Palmer and the continued effectiveness of rejuvenated running back Cedric Benson. Benson is fourth in the league in rushing (720 yards, 4.4 average), and is making life comfortable for Palmer, who over the past three season had spent roughly half his time on the ground and the other half in a hospital bed. With Benson pounding defenses and the Bengals offensive line doing its job, Palmer has stayed upright for the most part and has responded with 13 TD passes (vs. only 7 interceptions).Sports Betting at Sportsbook.com

Palmer has lots of options at wideout. Chad Ochocinco has been solid if not dominant, and second-year man Andre Caldwell has steadily moved up the depth chart. Chris Henry is finally staying out of trouble, and when all else fails, Lavernaues Coles can be force.

Yes, things are looking up again in Cincinnati. The Bengals are 5-2 and tied with Pittsburgh, one game up on the Ravens. Better yet, Cincy has already defeated every team in the division, an important tiebreaker come playoff time.

And best of all, coach Marvin Lewis no longer has to raid the team’s petty cash drawer to bail out players after Saturday nights on the town. Slowly but surely the Bengals’ reputation as a haven for punks is being put to rest.

Pittsburgh, which will have its own hands full in Denver this weekend, will no doubt be keeping a close eye on what occurs in Paul Brown Stadium. It’s crowded at the top of the AFC North, and this weekend and next could tell a lot about three teams who all could still be around when playoff candy is handed out in January.

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Lawrence Paul is a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog, and is a free-lance gambling and travel expert from Massachusetts.


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About Lawrence Paul

Lawrence Paul is back in the saddle as a regular contributor to the Cappers Picks Blog. He's got an AMAZING knack for predicting when a team will have a letdown! Stick with our resident gambling experts sports betting tips all season long!