Defense will be the focus on Thursday Night Football as the Ravens and Bengals clash on short rest. The margins are tight, but our prediction models suggest picking the UNDER for the best wagering value. Here’s why.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals (PK)
Opening Line: Ravens -3
Opening Total: 43
Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. ET (NFL Network)
Site: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Betting action is one-way siding with the Bengals, the game currently at a pick ‘em following a -3 opening line favoring the Ravens on Sunday. The adjustment is due to wise-guy money with only 30 percent of tickets across the major online sportsbooks written for Cincinnati as of Tuesday afternoon. The total has moved north a point from 43 to 44.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton has a slight 6-5 win advantage over Ravens signal-caller Joe Flacco. The numbers on offense are almost identical facing each others’ franchises. Dalton leads Cincy to 21.3 points per game on 246.4 yards passing, as opposed to Flacco’s 20.6 and 203.6 averages.
When projected to be a close clash, Dalton is even better. Kicking off with a line in-between a field goal, the Cincy QB is 4-2 SU and ATS head-to-head versus Flacco, leading the Bengals to a 23.0-19.7 average score line. Flacco, in fact, has dropped the last four meetings straight.
Coach Harbaugh talks TNF. pic.twitter.com/tVHYeXCDOl
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 10, 2018
Both teams have veteran coaches adept at prepping their squads on short rest, but the Ravens’ John Harbaugh has proven a slightly better bet. Harbaugh is 4-3-1 ATS on 3-day rest with a 7.7 margin, while Cincy’s Marvin Lewis is 4-5 ATS with a -2.0 difference.
One area that jumps out in the short-rest scenario above is the lack of scoring. The Bengals own a 33.5 and the Ravens a 37.5 average combined final score. Together, the UNDER is 12-5 overall with a negative-6.9 margin. Strong defense is the difference-maker as Baltimore yields 12.6 and the Bengals 16.6 points per game.
Neither team did much through the air in two meetings last year with both Flacco and Dalton under center. The Bengals posted 178.5 and the Ravens 152.5 passing yards per game. That’s minuscule in the current pass-happy NFL landscape. The series was dominated by big-play scoring. Four of nine touchdowns were by 17 yards or more. Expect both teams to buckle down in this department. UNDER is the play. A few shops are dangling 44.5. Lock it in.