The Baltimore Ravens, fresh off an 8-8 season where they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, host the Cincinnati Bengals, 10-6 a year ago and losers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs for the 3rd consecutive year. The Ravens are -1.5 point home favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook with a total of 43.
These two last met to close out the 2013 season in Cinci where the Bengals spanked the Ravens 34-17. Their previous meeting, in Baltimore, saw the Ravens defeat the Bengals in OT, 20-17.
The Bengals were the better team a year ago. It’s the Ravens that had more work to do in the off season in their attempt to return to the playoffs in 2014. This was a team that wasn’t very good offensively a year ago, ranking 29th in the league. Their rushing Game ranked 30th overall at 83 yards per Game and the team averaged just 20 points per Game. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell left to become the head coach of the Lions (should have been fired) and the Ravens brought in GAry Kubiak to run the offense.
The off season for the Ravens saw more distractions with the arrests of 3 of it’s players iNCluding Ray Rice. Rice will miss the first two Games and in case no one noticed, his production has been down as it is. This latest fiasco figures only to hurt Rice as he tries to reGAin form.
The Bengals would appear to be better than the Ravens on both sides of the ball. Andy Dalton has his problems, and Tom Brady he isn’t, but he’s at least stable with a good group of targets to shoot at. The defense was decent as well a year ago with a yards per point number of 16 placing them 8th overall in that category.
With Kubiak running the offense, the Ravens offense will improve. But it might take a few weeks as players continue to learn the new schemes. That benefits the Bengals in this one getting the Ravens right out of the GAte. These two play again at the end of October at which point we’ll revisit this matchup.
For now this time around, week 1 of the 2014 season, it would appear as though each of these teams will pick up where they left off a year ago when these two met to close the regular season. This one figures to be a tad closer than that 34-17 score, but we see the Bengals on top oNCe again. Bengals +1.5