QB Battle Set to Go Down at M&T Bank Stadium

The 4-2 Bengals visit the 5-1 Ravens in a matchup of two bright young quarterbacks. Joe Burrow has led Cincinnati to one of their best starts in recent memory behind a 70.7% completion rate. Lamar Jackson, meanwhile, has led the Ravens to five straight wins. 

Betting odds at BetUs and Bovada are in consensus, making Baltimore a -6 point favorite at home. The Ravens are playing their third straight game at M&T Bank Stadium, where they are 3-0 on the season. Cincinnati is on the road for their second consecutive game, coming off a dominant 34-11 win at Detroit on Sunday. 

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Bengals Building Confidence

Burrow has been the architect for Cincinnati to be one of the more successful NFL teams so far in the 2021 season. He has multiple TD passes in all six games this season, tied for sixth in the NFL with 14 scoring strikes on the year. 

Burrow’s favorite target has been rookie Ja’Marr Chase who has shaken off some preseason yips to amass 553 yards receiving with five TDs. Chase has a 40+ yard catch in five of six games on the year, so he really has the ability to stretch the Ravens defense in this matchup. 

The Bengals have an adequate running game as well, which is one of the reasons they’ll be able to cover the +6 point betting spread. Joe Mixon is fourth in the NFL with 480 rush yards but is pretty much a one-man band as backup Samaje Perine has just 87 yards on the season. 

What this matchup really looks like it’s shaping up to be is a good old-fashioned AFC North defensive struggle. Baltimore ranks 7th in the NFL, allowing just 20.5 ppg, while the Bengals have also looked good, allowing just 18.5 ppg (5th). The totals betting line is currently at 47.0 for this game. 

Ravens Keep Plugging Along

Baltimore is an OT loss in Las Vegas in the season opener away from coming into Sunday’s matchup with Cincinnati undefeated. Since that defeat, the Ravens have been a machine with notable victories, including vs. the Chiefs (36-35), at Denver (23-7), and last week against the Chargers (34-6). 

The victory over Los Angeles was especially dominant as the Chargers were 4-1 coming into that game. The Ravens defense was able to ground Justin Herbert and the LAC passing attack, holding them to just 182 yards through the air. L.A. had just 26 rush yards on 12 attempts.

The betting line of Baltimore -6 for this game is on the high side, but the Ravens looked amazing last week. John Harbaugh’s squad held a 38:07 to 21:53 time of possession advantage, and Burrow can’t hurt you if he’s not on the field. 

The Ravens had three rushing TDs last week, and perhaps the best news is that none of them were from Lamar Jackson. The Ravens QB did have 51 yards on the ground, but Devonta Freeman, Latavius Murray, and Le’veon Bell all punched the ball into the end zone displaying Baltimore’s backfield depth. 

Bengals at Ravens Pick 

Baltimore is a tough NFL prediction for this week just because it’s kind of a letdown spot coming off the big win vs. the Chargers. The Ravens could also be looking forward to next week’s bye, but one would think they get up for this one with the Bengals just one game back in the North. 

The Ravens dominated this series last year with 27-3 and 38-3 wins. Burrow only played in one of those games, but until Cincinnati shows they can hang with the top dog in the division, they have to be avoided. 

Pick: Ravens -6

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