An AFC North matchup between the undefeated Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals is this week’s Thursday night matchup. The Bengals are 1.5-point underdogs on the NFL odds board and they’re our pick to cover the spread.
This series is tied 22-22 all-time, but Cincinnati is 6-2 straight up in its last eight games against the Ravens including last year’s shocking 31-27 outright win as an 8-point underdog at Baltimore in Week 17.
Generally speaking, these quick turnaround matchups favor the home teams because they don’t have to travel and get an extra day of practice. The road team loses a day of practice on Wednesday because it must fly to the host city.
The Bengals had won five straight at home in this series (4-1 ATS), but that ended Week 1 last year when Cincinnati was offensively inept in a 20-0 loss to Baltimore. Andy Dalton had maybe the worst game of his career with four interceptions and a lost fumble.
That loss put offensive coordinator Ken Zampese on the hot seat, and he would be fired after another terrible effort in Week 2. The Bengals have too much offensive talent to be blanked by anyone (especially at home), and they did win in Baltimore to close last season.
Cincinnati opened 2018 with a 34-23 win at the Indianapolis Colts, scoring the game’s final 24 points. The Bengals remain without top linebacker Vontaze Burfict as he serves Game 2 of a four-game suspension.
The AFC North standings look a little goofy after the first week of the season. The Ravens and Bengals are both 1-0 while the Pittsburgh Steelers, the preseason favorites to win the AFC North division, are 0-0-1 after tying the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
That home loss for the Ravens to Cincinnati in Week 17 was one of the most devastating in franchise history. The game swung on a long touchdown pass on fourth down in the final minute. The Ravens were ousted from the playoffs because of the setback which allowed the Bills to sneak into the postseason.
Baltimore had little trouble in a 47-3 home win over those Bills on Sunday, but don’t overreact to that score. Buffalo might be the NFL’s worst team with the foulest group of quarterbacks. Baltimore top cornerback Jimmy Smith will not play on Thursday. He still has three games left to serve on his four-game suspension.
This line was a pick’em when CG Technology posted odds for all NFL games this season last May. Most Vegas and offshore sportsbooks now have the Ravens as 1 to 1.5-point favorites. The total opened at 43.5 and it has moved up a half point to 44 at a few locations.
September 10, 2018