NFL Picks: Bengals vs. Ravens

Darin Zank

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 8:09 PM GMT

The Baltimore Ravens host the Cincinnati Bengals for an NFL Sunday matchup. Where have we decided to place our money for this weekends game?

The defending Super Bowl champs are two games under .500 at the halfway mark of this season, and in danger of missing the playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals just lost a tough game on the road, but they still own a two-game lead in the AFC North. 

So it's almost desperation time for the Baltimore Ravens heading into their game at home Sunday against the first-place Bengals (1 pm ET, CBS).

Can the Ravens, as home dogs on the betting line, stay alive and pull out a victory? Or can Cincy stretch its lead in the divisional race?

The Betting Line 

Some NFL odd outlets opened this game with Cincy favored by 2.5 points, the total offered at 44.5. As of mid-week some of those shops had dropped the Bengals to -1.5.

Bengals-Ravens Game Set-Up

Cincy opened this season with a tough loss at Chicago, won two straight afterwards, but then laid a big egg in a loss at Cleveland. However, the Bengals then won four games in a row, beating the Patriots, Bills, Lions and Jets, to get to 6-2.

Last week, though, Cincy went down to Miami and lost in overtime 22-20 on a sack in the end zone.

Baltimore, meanwhile, began this season with a loss at Denver, then won three of its next four games to get to 3-2. The Ravens have since lost three in a row, and haven't been able to score more than 18 points in any of those games.

Last week Baltimore made Cleveland back-up QB Jason Campbell look good in a 24-18 loss to the Browns. Campbell hit on 23 of 35 throws against the Ravens defense for 262 yards and three touchdowns, with nary an interception. 

So Cincy, at 6-3, leads the AFC North by two games over 4-5 Cleveland, and 2.5 games over 3-5 Baltimore. If the playoffs started today the Bengals would be the four seed in the AFC, while the Ravens would be home watching on TV, or golfing, or whatever it is defending Super Bowl champs do when they miss the playoffs the next season.

Bengals-Ravens By the Numbers

Cincy ranks ninth in the league in total offense, averaging 380 YPG, and 19th in rushing at 107 YPG. On defense the Bengals rank fifth overall, allowing 325 YPG, and 10th vs. the run, holding foes to 104 YPG.

Cincy also ranks fifth in time-of-possession, holding the ball for an average of over 32 minutes per game.

Baltimore ranks 23rd in offense at 322 YPG; a dismal 29th in rushing at 72 YPG; 10th in defense, allowing 340 YPG; eighth vs. the run, holding foes to 100 YPG; and 19th in time-of-possession at 30:03.

Bengals-Ravens Recent History

Baltimore had won four games in a row in this series, until Cincinnati took a 23-17 decision last December. But that Week 17 game meant very little because both teams were basically already locked into their playoff seedings.

In last season's first meeting the Bengals kicked a short field goal to get within 17-13 midway through the third quarter, but the Ravens then scored 27 straight points to win 44-13.

Bengals-Ravens Betting Trends

Cincy is 5-3-1 ATS this season.

Baltimore is 3-5 vs. the numbers this year. 

The Bengals are 5-3-1 on the OVER/UNDERS this season, as their games have averaged 43 points.

The Ravens are 3-5 on the totals, even though their games have also averaged 43 points.

Three of the last four games in this series have played OVER the totals. The only one that didn't was that meaningless game last December.

Cincy is 5-2-1 ATS over the last eight games in this rivalry.

Injury Update

Cincy is banged-up on defense; last week added to those woes, as DT Geno Atkins tore an ACL in Miami. So the Bengals are now missing three guys who started on defense in Week 1, plus several situational players.

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Our Take on Sunday's Game

It's getting near to last-gasp time for Baltimore; a loss Sunday would drop the Ravens to 3.5 games back of the Bengals in the AFC North, with just seven games to play.

But Cincy ranks better on both offense and defense, runs the ball better and holds an edge in time-of-possession.

In the NFL, teams that out-rush their opponents and win the TOP battle cover the spread about 70 percent of the time.

So we'll go with the Bengals for our free NFL pick for this weekend.

NFL Pick: Take Cincy at the -1 offered at Pinnacle Sports.