The Baltimore Ravens have lost control of the AFC North to the Cincinnati Bengals in the final weeks of the season two years running, a fate they’re trying to avoid tripling up on with a win on Thursday Night Football.
The game, which has massive playoff implications for a strong and balanced division as well as the entire conference, kicks off at 8:15 p.m., with the Ravens installed as 3.5-point home favourites at bet365.
Bet on Bengals vs. Ravens
Every team in the AFC North has a winning record and the Ravens’ 33-31 loss to the Cleveland Browns last week tightened the standings up considerably, but Baltimore could grab a 2 ½-game lead over Joe Burrow and the Bengals with a win Thursday. Baltimore has led the division after Week 10 in four of the past five seasons, but they have finished first just once in that span, in 2019.
All four teams in the AFC North are matched up in divisional games this weekend, with the 6-3 Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers playing in Cleveland on Sunday.
The game features two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL, with Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson ranked ninth with a passer rating of 98.1 and Burrow at No. 16 and climbing with a 90.5 passer rating.
Bengals vs. Ravens odds
|Bengals Moneyline Odds||+165|
|Ravens Moneyline Odds||-185|
|Spread odds||Ravens -3.5 (-110)|
|Over/Under||46.5 points (over -110, under -110)|
|Time/Date||Nov. 16, 8:15 p.m. ET|
About the Bengals (5-4 SU, 4-4-1 ATS, 4-5 o/u)
This tends to be the time of year when the Bengals get things in gear. They have been 5-4 each of the past three seasons, but managed to win the division in both 2021 and 2022 and have been to two AFC title games and a Super Bowl in that span. Keeping that streak alive would be awfully difficult if they get swept by Baltimore, who defeated them 27-24 in Week 2 while Burrow still was hobbled by a calf injury.
Burrow called last week’s 30-27 loss to Houston one of the most frustrating of his NFL career as his 374 passing yards and two touchdowns went for naught thanks in part to two fourth-quarter interceptions and a key dropped pass.
Burrow has looked far more sharp in recent weeks, but he’ll be operating without one of his top receivers this week. Tee Higgins is out with a hamstring injury.
The Bengals’ defence is also dinged up in this one, with lineman Sam Hubbard missing a second straight game due to an ankle injury. They felt his absence last week when Devin Singletary ran for 150 yards against them.
About the Ravens (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS, 4-6 o/u)
One of the reasons people view the Ravens as bona fide Super Bowl contenders is Jackson’s continued improvement as a passer. His 70.3% completion percentage is second only to Dak Prescott and considerably better than Burrow’s 67%, which ranks 14th. That, combined with Jackson’s scrambling ability, makes him a legitimate MVP threat.
At Bet365, the Ravens are the No. 6 choice – at +1200 – to win it all, with Cincinnati the No. 8 choice at +1800. That’s one way of encapsulating just how crucial this game is just past the midway point of the NFL season.
Jackson and Burrow have faced each other just four times, with Jackson’s team winning three of those meetings. He threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns in the earlier game between the teams.
As dominant as the Ravens have looked for much of this season, late-game lapses have cost them all of their losses. They lost in overtime to Indianapolis, on a late touchdown at Pittsburgh and on a last-play field goal vs. Cleveland. They have tended to build early leads, outscoring opponents 79-16 in the first quarter, but frittered those three away.
Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh promised to get rookie RB Keaton Mitchell more touches in Thursday night’s game after he played just four snaps and touched the ball once in the second half vs. Cleveland, which was an unmitigated disaster for Baltimore’s offence.
With Jackson and the passing game stalling out a bit in recent weeks, Harbaugh figures to be a man of his word and the Ravens like to run the ball anyway judging by their 51% run rate. Mitchell is more of a big-play threat than Gus Edwards or Justice Hill and, if he truly is going to have a larger role in this game, it could be worth playing him to score an anytime touchdown (at +210) or exceed his rushing yards prop (36.5 yards at -115). The Bengals have a lousy run defence that already has allowed 1,226 ground yards and an average of 5 yards per carry.
Lamar Jackson (BAL) anytime touchdown
In addition to the injuries to Higgins and Hubbard, WR Andrei Iosivas (knee) is out, while WR Charlie Jones (thumb) remains on injured reserve and won’t play either.
Baltimore will be without OT Ronnie Stanley (knee) and CB Marlon Humphrey (calf) is doubtful. LB Trenton Simpson (concussion) is out, too, while WR Devin Duvernay (hamstring) and CB Daryl Worley (hamstring) are questionable.
Both offences will be dealing with nearly ideal conditions, with forecasts calling for temperatures of about 15 C at kickoff and barely a hint of wind coming from the south at about 5 km/h.
- The Ravens are 19-3 since 2008 in home night games, for what that’s worth.
- On the road at night, Cincinnati has lost 13 straight games.
- Cincinnati is 1-0 as a 3.5-point underdog or greater this season.
Player prop trends
- Burrow has exceeded the over on pass attempts in nine of his last 11 away games. His line in this one is set at 37.5 attempts (at -115).
- Ja’Marr Chase has hit the over on his number of receptions in 11 of his last 16 games. His number here is 6.5 at -155.
- Jackson’s TD passes have come in under the total in eight of his last nine games. His number is set at 1.5 at +110.
Wagers to consider
- It feels like Baltimore might lean a bit more on its running game than usual in this game given deficiencies in Cincinnati’s defence and a dip in Jackson’s passing in recent weeks. That makes for some good opportunities to bet on anytime touchdowns for several potential ball carriers near the goal line, including Jackson himself (+140), Edwards (+110) and Mitchell.
- The Bengals have to get it going and Burrow has been red-hot in recent games. But Baltimore has been absolutely dominant in the first quarter, which could put Cincinnati’s offence in catch-up mode. That makes this a decent spot to bank on plenty of pass attempts from Burrow. Consider playing over-37.5 on Burrow throws in this one.