Money Line Pick in Order for Bengals vs. Ravens Week 1

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 2:33 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 3, 2014 2:33 PM UTC

Free NFL picks for the Week 1 matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens. Which betting lines look to be the juiciest for football bettors looking to profit?

We finally made it to September and the start of the 2014/15 NFL season and things in the AFC North get hot and heavy in Week 1 when the much-improved Cincinnati Bengals pay a visit to Baltimore to play the rough-and-tumble Ravens in the Charm City’s M&T Bank Stadium in a game which will definitely set the tone for the division (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).

We breakdown all aspects of this game and offer up our free NFL picks for this matchups, helping you to walk away the winner in this season's opening weekend.


Opening NFL Odds
NFL odds makers have made QB Joe Flacco (27-22-1 ATS at Home) and the host Ravens (5/2 to win the AFC North) slight 1½- to 2½-point favorites—there was a -1 out there at Boylesports—over the visiting Bengals (8/5 to win the AFC North) and QB Andy Dalton (13-10-3 ATS on Road) in this season opener, so it’s quite obvious these two teams will be fighting tooth-and-nail on every possession in the at least two meetings this season (the Ravens will be in Cincinnati for the return leg on Oct. 26). The Pittsburgh Steelers (2/1 to win AFC North) and the Cleveland Browns (6/1) and their respective Odds To Win The AFC North reveal that anything could happen this season in the AFC North, especially if the Browns make any kind of improvement as is expected by some.

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It’s Always Hard to Tell How Teams Will Play in NFL in Week 1
Most teams hope for a cupcake in their season opener, but The Powers That Be in the NFL gave us this dandy on Week 1 of the NFL schedule, and no doubt the Ravens and Bengals are both scared to death to lose this game and start 0-1. And both have capable opponents on deck with Baltimore staying home to host Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers on Thursday (Sept. 11, CBS Thursday Night Football, 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT) while Cincinnati heads home for its lidlifter at Paul Brown Stadium against Matt Ryan and the Falcons next Sunday. Birds everywhere baby.

The Bengals (11-6 SU, 10-6-1 ATS) really made huge strides last season and rewarded their betting backers—covering 5 of their last 7—as guys like RB Giovani Bernard and WR AJ Green put this team in the position are now where they are the favorites (-180, bet365) to Win the AFC North, 60 cents lower than the Ravens (-240) who used to be one of the two Bad Boys in the division along with the slumping Steelers (-200). The Ravens (8-8 SU, 7-9 ATS) will need big years from RB Ray Rice and WR Steve Smith but conventional wisdom would say both are more likely to disappoint some and that Flacco and the defense will have to be at peak levels for this team to ultimately top the division.

The Game's Total is 43 almost everywhere, but handicapping this Total in this situation reveals no real edges and if there is a lean one way it would definitely be with the Over—the only way to lean in the Modern Day NFL. The Bengals (Season win total 9 -110, LVH SuperBook) and the Ravens (Season win total 8½u -120) can both put up the points and the two meetings last season saw Baltimore winning 20-17 (Under, 43½) here at home and getting blown out in the season finale at Cincinnati (34-17, O42½). So the number is probably right where it should be.

The Bengals (36/1, +3600 at BETDAQ) are slightly favored ahead of  the Ravens (40/1, +4000 at William Hill) to Win the Super Bowl, but honestly, Cincinnati may have a much better chance of getting to the AFC Championship game and having a chance to win the AFC (8/1, LVH SuperBook) and get to the NFL title game this season with all it has done as an organization and with a freak like Green. Helmets off to head coach Marvin Lewis and his Bengals staff.


Is There Anything of Value Worth Betting On in This Game?
Some interesting NFL betting team trends in this game that support backing the small home favorite are Baltimore’s 4-0 SU record when opening a season at home under coach John Harbaugh as well as the fact the Ravens last Week 1 loss at home was all the way back in 2005 when Kyle Boller was the team’s QB and unleaded gas was $2.05 a gallon in the USA. Memories. Baltimore also has  a respectable 45-38 ATS mark in the month of September—a month in which the visiting Bengals are just 33-47 ATS in over their last 80 games. So, Baltimore likes September a little.

On the injury front, a front where very little is to be gleaned on a Monday six days before a Sunday game, as these empty Ravens and Bengals injury reports mystically reveal, there seems to be a significant edge to Baltimore here as the availability and 100% health of Andre Smith, Vontaze Burfict, Darqueze Dennard and James Wright were all in doubt for the Bengals heading into this past weekend’s final preseason game. And then TJ Hopkins, Cedric Peerman and Trey Hopkins were also all nicked up in that last preseason game, a possibly costly and meaningless win for Cincinnati over the Cardinals. So, Cincinnati goes in limping to a degree. Another advantage to the Ravens.

To avoid having to lay 2 points or 1½ or 1 or ½, it’s much better (and easier to watch) taking host Baltimore to be the Outright Winners (Moneyline) (-120 Sky Bet, Betfair) here as the the home-field advantage and the fact it’s the home home opener should ultimately be the difference in a city that really loves its NFL football team, and knows the significance of this game and the improvements its’ opponents have made.

But what really caught my eye and pushed the arrow totally to the Ravens is the fact that the Bengals were a dominating 8-1 ATS at home last season but only a sobering 1-5-1 ATS away from the River City. Taking a good team at home in its home opener and laying no points against a team with only one cover away from home last season seems like the best route in this particular contest, which should also be a great watch. And on a side note: There were no proposition bets out for Anytime TD Scorer at press time, but if there are, Baltimore WR Smith or returning TE Dennis Pitta may be worth a look if the price is right. In the end, the Black Birds are the call here on the moneyline in a close one that could very well be settled by a field goal.

Free NFL Picks: Ravens M/L -120  at YouWager

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