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Bengals at Ravens NFL Game of the Week Pick With Analysis
John J. Raspanti
The Bengals (6-3) 2011 season has been a shock to many. They won four games last year and traded wide receiver Chad Ochocinco and quarterback Carson Palmer. Running back Cedric Benson was in trouble with the law again. Instead of bottom feeding, Cincinnati is nipping at first place Pittsburgh’s heals. Their quarterback is rookie Andy Dalton. His statistics are very impressive for such a young player. He’s completed 60 percent of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns.
The Ravens are a 7 Point home favorite with a total of 40.5 at 5 Dimes.
Dalton’s growth made owner Mike Brown’s decision to let go of Carson Palmer an easy one. Dalton’s go to guy is A.J. Green who like Dalton is a rookie. Green has caught 41 balls for 635 yards. Cedric Benson has rushed for 593 yards and had two hundred yard games. Tight end Jermane Gresham has snagged 29 balls while Jerome Simpson has 26.
On the defensive side of the football, free safety Reggie Nelson leads the team with 55 tackles. Outside linebacker Thomas Howard has 52 while middle linebacker Ray Maualuga has chipped in with 45. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Frostee Ricker have 8 sacks between them.
The Ravens (6-3) had a let down last weekend and paid for it. Their loss to the Seahawks was especially painful after they had finally defeated the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Their inconsistency has been maddening. Quarterback Joe Flacco has moved from hero to goat on a regular basis. Flacco has completed only 55 percent of his passes with 10 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Running back Ray Rice has gained 559 yards on the ground and caught 46 passes. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin is having another good year with 43 catches. Flacco has been looking for tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta on a more regular basis. Torrey Smith is the main deep threat averaging 18 yards a catch.
The Raven defense is as tough and resilient as ever. 36-year-old Ray Lewis refuses to get old. Lewis leads the team with 68 tackles plus a couple of sacks and an interception. Cornerback Ladarius Webb has 47 tackles while outside linebacker Terrell Suggs has 41 and 6 sacks.
Bettorsworld Bottom Line - The Ravens are favored by a touchdown here mostly as a result of their play at home this year. With the exception of the Cardinals game where they had to come from way behind, they have played well at home and have beaten good teams by large margins. But we still felt as though they needed to go into Seattle last week and dominate, which of course, they didn't, losing outright.
The Bengals on the other hand, have been the picture of consistency. All 3 of their losses were by a touchdown or less, to go along with their 6 wins. Right across the board the Bengals numbers are dead even with the Ravens. Yards per point numbers are dead even, both teams a very good 13 on offense and almost 17 on defense. Points for and points allowed are even. Rushing yards, passing yards, defense against the run and pass, all just about dead even.
We're concerned, as we were last week, with the rookie QB Dalton going up against another one of the leagues best defenses for the 2nd week in a row, but some of that is negated by Flacco's inconsistent play. We're going to go ahead and back the Bengals here. The numbers don't lie and the numbers say they are every bit as good as the Ravens and among the better teams in the NFL. Bengals +7
#1 Rated Sportsbook At Bettorsworld? 5 Dimes