Baltimore Ravens Renew Focus versus Cincinnati Bengals
Written by Greg Smith – 2011-12 NFL Prediction Record (10-3)
The Baltimore Ravens prepare to host the surprisingly strong Cincinnati Bengals this weekend after giving up a horrendous loss on the road against the Seattle Seahawks last weekend. The Bengals are also going into this matchup after a loss on the road to the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they have to be feeling pretty good after going toe-to-toe with one of the NFL’s best teams. Both of these AFC North Division teams will be going into this game looking to gain a critical edge in the race to a playoff berth so NFL fans should be treated to a highly entertaining game. After going through some of the highlights NFL bettors should also be enjoying a profitable return on their wagers.
At first glance the Bengals might seem to be the logical side to bet on for this game. Certainly, the Bengals have had a relatively successful and consistent season to date. The Ravens, on the other hand, have shown NFL bettors an extremely tough (and profitable) team in one week and a complete flop in the next. Their game against the Seattle Seahawks the past weekend (a team they should have certainly defeated, at least on paper) is a prime example of this pattern. It is my belief, however, that the Ravens have been guilty of “over-complicating” and being off-focus against lesser teams and essentially beating themselves. In the Seahawks game against the Ravens it’s not as if either the Seattle defence or offence played an outstanding game in order to win. Rather, they sat back and collected field goals as the Ravens tried to finesse their way to a win with a QB led passing attack. This is not to say that Joe Flacco is entirely to blame for the Ravens loss (although he deserves a good deal of flak) as the entire team should be criticized.
While infuriating to NFL bettors that happened to side with the Ravens against the Seahawks, I believe it is part of the current Baltimore psychology that they take losing teams such as the Seahawks very casually. Important divisional matchups (such as this Sunday’s against the Bengals and previous matches against the Steelers) show a Ravens team that is highly focused and committed to doing whatever it takes to get a win. While the Bengals played quite well against the Steelers in their last game, nearly pulling off a victory, they suffered two major injury losses as cornerback Leon Hall is now out for the season and wide receiver AJ Green is listed as questionable. As Cincinnati linebacker described, “It’s a horrible pill to swallow. Leon is such a tremendous attribute to this defence.” The Bengals defence has been strong this season and currently ranks 5th overall (2nd versus the rush and 10th versus the pass) but Hall’s injury on defence weakens them right into the hands of the Ravens. Coach Harbaugh has repeatedly stood by their passing offence, but we can almost certainly expect a more balanced approach against the Bengals. The Ravens have two excellent rushing players in Ray Rice and Vonta Leach that can expect to be utilized against the Bengals, along with a good passing attack.
It seems counter-intuitive but I think this matchup is an excellent example of situational betting. The Baltimore Ravens (for whatever reason) are a team that must be fired up to play at their best, both physically and mentally. In this important AFC North battle with playoff consequences the Ravens should be raring to go at home against a tough Bengals team.
Prediction: Take the Baltimore Ravens -6.5 (5Dimes.com)