The Bengals and Ravens both enjoyed a fast start to the NFL season, and will need to keep up that pace on a shortened week as they meet in Cincinnati on Thursday.
The home team were road winners in Indianapolis despite trailing 23-10 at one point. Joe Mixon had an impressive season debut, avoiding the threat of Gio Bernard cannibalising his touches, and racked up 149 total yards and a TD against a perennially porous Colts defence.
Their investment in the offensive line is the biggest thing going for them this season, and Mixon’s week one performance shows the difference better protection can make.
It also benefits the flaky QB Andy Dalton.
The Ravens defence present a tougher prop than the Colts though.
While homefield advantage counts for something here, the Bengals line is still an inexperienced unit playing together. Baltimore have a stronger pass rush than the Indy and can take advantage.
The Ravens slaughtered the Bills uin week one. Quarterback Joe Flacco could sit out most of the second half because they were already 40 points up and, on a short week, resting starters could be make the difference here.
The QB looked to be on his way out of town after a disappointing 2017, but surrounded by new offensive talent, the Ravens look a much more threatening now and are the textbook example of a Super Bowl dark horse.
Also, in their last 15 divisional games against the spread, coach John Harbaugh’s team are 12-3, so getting them with the points appeals here.
Handicap: Ravens +1 – 10/11
Baltimore opened this game as favourites, but the line has moved towards Cincy during the week. We think it’s swung a bit too far and would take the road team +1.
Total Points: Under 45 – 20/23
Both of these defences are tough. This is a short week, so the opportunity to scheme creatively is limited, and generally these AFC North clashes can be tight. The total has gone under in three of the last four meetings between these teams.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer: AJ Green – Evens
The Bengals offence looks to be running through Joe Mixon, but their best scoring threat here is AJ Green, who faces a secondary without Jimmy Smith. His injury last season really hit Baltimore hard, so there should be an opportunity for Green, who is a handful for the best defences. He’s 13/2 to score first as well if you prefer a bigger price.