With logistics and final schedules yet to be decided, the Cincinnati Bengals will return to Paycor Stadium this Sunday for a Week 18 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Cincinnati’s game against the Buffalo Bills looked like it was going to be a classic on Monday Night Football that would help determine the pecking order for the AFC’s top teams. With the Bengals leading 7-3 and driving, what looked like a routine play where wide receiver Tee Higgins lowered his shoulder on Bills defender Damar Hamiln to fight for extra yards turned into an emergency situation.
Hamlin got up from the play and collapsed again within a few seconds. He was administered CPR on the field and, according to verified reports, he was resuscitated during the time he laid unconscious before he could be transported to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center. Hamlin remains in critical condition, although recent reports have been positive about his recovery and long-term prospects.
The game was postponed indefinitely and the NFL is still deciding on whether it can still be played and how it would affect the overall playoff schedule.
Baltimore (10-6) has clinched a playoff berth, but a 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday proved costly as the Ravens no longer have the inside track to the No. 5 seed. They will need to win Sunday and hope the Los Angeles Chargers lose to the Denver Broncos. Quarterback Lamar Jackson is not expected to play Sunday.
FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Bengals as a 7-point favorite with an over/under of 41.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Time/TV: 1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS
Point spread (from FanDuel): Bengals -7
Money line: Ravens +265; Bengals -330
Analysis: ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Cincinnati a 58% chance of winning. The line opened at Bengals -6.5 with 42.5 for the point total.
It’s hard to determine where the Bengals will be mentally. The image of both teams huddled around Hamiln while he was clinging to life is something that will be hard to forget. There might also be somewhat of an eagerness to return to the field and get back to something familiar. All the metrics point to Cincinnati winning, but this is one of those times when the metrics won’t tell the whole story.
It’s not necessarily a must-win for the Ravens but playing the Jacksonville Jaguars or Tennessee Titans in the first round of the playoffs is probably more appealing than possibly playing the Bengals, Bills or Kansas City Chiefs (depending on how the seeds work out). The Ravens will keep it close, but the Bengals will pull away late.
Prediction: Bengals 27, Ravens 20
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