An AFC North showdown will have the honor of being the Sunday Night Football matchup during Wild Card Weekend. The Cincinnati Bengals are set to host the Baltimore Ravens at 8:15 p.m. ET from Paycor Stadium in a game that will be televised on NBC.
These teams just played in Week 18 in what turned out to be a mostly meaningless game, as the Bengals locked up the AFC North crown prior to last Sunday. Cincinnati still took care of business at home with a 27-16 victory.
The Bengals (12-4) haven’t actually lost a game since a Monday Night Football matchup against the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 31. Since then, Cincinnati has won eight in a row to close out the regular season, with the lone exception being the canceled contest against the Buffalo Bills in Week 17.
Joe Burrow and Co. are playing as well as anyone entering the postseason, which is notable considering the Bengals had a magical playoff run last year that ended with a Super Bowl appearance. The Bengals are currently +800 to win the championship and +420 to win the AFC crown.
Baltimore, meanwhile, doesn’t come into the dance with the same level of momentum. The Ravens have lost back-to-back games and three of their previous four contests. Quarterback Lamar Jackson, who hasn’t played or practiced since Week 13, seems unlikely to return this weekend based on recent reports.
It has all culminated into a large spread between two teams meeting for a third time this season. FanDuel Sportsbook lists the Bengals as an 8.5-point home favorite with an over/under of 40.5.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET Sunday, NBC
Point spread (from FanDuel): Bengals -8.5
Money line: Ravens +330/Bengals -420
Analysis: This handicap almost feels too good to be true. The Ravens have failed to live up to expectations based on the market, going 6-9-2 against the spread this year. The Bengals, meanwhile, are 12-3-1 ATS and are clearly the better team in this one.
Jackson was not seen at practice again Wednesday, marking his 16th consecutive missed practice. It has been 38 days since Jackson suffered an injury to his left knee in a 10-9 win over the Denver Broncos. The Ravens are 2-3 with anyone else starting under center this year.
It honestly might have been hard for Cincinnati to be motivated for a Jackson-less Ravens team for the second week in a row, at least until last Sunday happened. Bengals’ players told reporters that the Ravens took some cheap shots in the regular-season finale. Based on the quotes, they seem to have revenge on their mind this weekend.
As a result, we would suggest laying the points with the Bengals in this one and to consider playing alternate spreads for good measure. Cincinnati should have no problem putting away Baltimore on Sunday Night Football.
Prediction: Bengals 31, Ravens 13
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