Point spread: Baltimore -1.5
The Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals clash on New Year’s Bay in one final AFC North battle that has major playoff implications for both teams. Game time is slated for 1 p.m. (ET) and the game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Baltimore has already locked-up a spot in the postseason, but needs to win this game to win the AFC North and secure a first-round bye. It comes into this game fresh off a 20-14 victory over Cleveland as a 12.5-point home favorite to post its fifth win in its last six games.
The Ravens are now 11-4 straight-up on the year, but an even 7-7-1 against the spread. The total has gone ‘over’ in nine of their 15 games this year. Baltimore’s offense is ranked a very vanilla 15th in the NFL, but its defense remains ranked at the top of the league in just about every major category.
Cincinnati’s situation is fairly simple; win and it is in the playoffs as the second wildcard team. It can still get in with a loss, but would need all sorts of help. The Bengals’ 23-16 victory over Arizona last Sunday as 4.5-point home favorites raised their record to 9-6 SU and 8-5-2 ATS. The total has gone ‘over’ in 10 of their 15 games this year.
While rookie quarterback Andy Dalton should get some consideration for offensive ‘rookie of the year’ honors, it is the Cincinnati defense that has this team on the brink of returning to the postseason. It is ranked sixth in the league in total yards allowed and ninth in points allowed; giving-up an average of 19.9 points a game.
The Ravens are 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games against the AFC North, but just 2-6-1 ATS in their last nine games as favorites. The total has gone ‘over’ in six of their last eight games on the road.
The Bengals are 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games against the division, but 6-2-1 ATS in their last nine games as underdogs. The total has gone ‘over’ in five of their last six home games.
Head-to-head, the underdog is 4-0-1 ATS in the last five meetings and the total stayed ‘under’ in four of the five games. Baltimore is 0-4-1 ATS in the last five meetings overall and 1-5 ATS in its last six trips to Cincinnati.
Stick with the recent series trends in this matchup as the Bengals find a way to pull out a win to keep their season alive.
The Free NFL Pick: Cincinnati 20 Baltimore 17
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.