First place in the AFC North will be up for grabs when the Cincinnati Bengals head to Baltimore on Sunday night to face the Ravens in prime time.
Both teams are tied with the Browns at 2-2, atop the North. The Bengals have won two straight, including a showdown with the AFC East leading Miami Dolphins on Thursday night.
In addition to playing on prime time two weeks in a row, the Bengals got an extra three days of rest after their win against Miami.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Sunday, October 09, 2022 – 08:20 PM EDT at M&T Stadium
The Ravens will be playing their first game outside of the AFC East, after alternating road wins (over the Jets and Patriots) and home losses (to the Dolphins and Bills) for the first four weeks. This will be their first AFC North divisional game and Cincinnati’s second. The Bengals lost to Pittsburgh in the opening week.
Cincinnati’s Nice Weekend
Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Bengals over the weekend. After winning two games in five days to even their record, they got to sit and watch on Sunday as all three of their divisional rivals lost, moving Cincinnati into a tie for first place. The Browns, Ravens, and Steelers lost by a total of 10 points, with Baltimore blowing a big lead against Buffalo and Pittsburgh losing on a touchdown with 16 seconds left.
Against Miami, the Bengals again showed the offense that helped carry them to the Super Bowl last season. Over the last two games, quarterback Joe Burrow has thrown for five touchdowns with no interceptions and has been sacked just four times, after going down 13 times in the first two weeks. Burrow completed half of his attempts for more than 20 yards on Thursday, including a 59-yard score to Tee Higgins, who starred with seven catches for 124 yards.
The offense still has some work to do to iron out the issues, but it’s trending in the right direction and is doing better in two areas: the offensive line protecting the quarterback and skill players avoiding turnovers.
While the offense appears to be finding its feet after a slow start, especially struggling to protect Burrow in the first two games, the defense continues to provide a strong backbone for Cincinnati with its fourth straight strong performance.
The Bengals had extra time to recover from any injuries, and they came out of the Miami game relatively healthy. The only new injury reported was tight end Devin Asiasi, who left with an ankle injury.
Tough Sunday for Baltimore
The Ravens had a rough day on Sunday, losing a heartbreaker and a chance to take a one-game lead on the rest of the division. Baltimore led 20-3 in the first half and 20-10 at halftime before watching the Bills rally for a 23-20 victory –Buffalo’s biggest comeback in 11 years. The Ravens have now lost a team record five straight home games and dropped two games this year where they led by 17 points or more.
Coach John Harbaugh took some heat for going for it on fourth down late in the fourth quarter instead of taking a field goal to go up six, allowing Buffalo to get a jump start on its eventual game-winning drive, and that was hardly Harbaugh’s only rough moment late in the game.
As the Bills were preparing to kick the field goal for the winning points, Baltimore All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters had an emotional confrontation with the head coach on the sideline, slamming his helmet on the turf. He had to be held back from charging Harbaugh, who said afterward, “Emotions run high. We have an honest relationship. I love him. I hope he still loves me. We’ll see.”
The only Baltimore injury of note coming out of Sunday was running back Justice Hill, who left in the fourth quarter with a hamstring problem.
Bengals vs. Ravens: Our Betting Pick
The Bengals offense appears to be trending in the right direction, and Baltimore seems to be reeling after the disastrous fourth quarter against the Bills.
Divisional matchups are a funny thing, though. Look for the Ravens to have some answers on defense and for the team to pull together against a familiar rival. We’re betting on the bounce back this week.
NFL Pick: Ravens -3.5 (+100) at MaximBet