The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals are tied at the top of their division. They meet up in Cincinnati in a game that will most likely determine the fate of their playoff hopes. With everything on the line, which team is the right NFL pick?
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday, December 26, 2021 – 01:00 PM EST at Paul Brown Stadium
The Baltimore Ravens and their aggressive nature at the end of the game were the talk of the NFL world after they dropped another close game at home to the Green Bay Packers last Sunday. Down by one, the Ravens elected to go for two and fell short 31-30.
This is the second time in the last 3 weeks that the Ravens have opted to try for a two-point conversion to win the game, rather than kick the extra point and take the tie. This has led to plenty of second-guessing of the Ravens' aggressive strategy.
The Baltimore Ravens were close in a game in which not much was expected of them. They came in as 7-point underdogs at home because their star player Lamar Jackson was missing.
Jackson was replaced by Tyler Huntley, who performed admirably. Huntley was 28-40 for 215 yards with 2 TDs and zero interceptions. He also added 73 yards on the ground and rushed for two touchdowns. Huntley's two TD passes went to tight end Mark Andrews as Andrews amassed 136 yards. Many teams fall short with their backup QB in the game. The Ravens had to have been impressed and satisfied with the performance of Huntley.
The loss was the third in the row for Baltimore. The Ravens have had one of the worst injury situations in the league, but continue to be competitive every week. We must give credit to coach John Harbaugh for leading his team to a winning season, even as the injuries have mounted, especially on a defensive end.
For the Ravens to be so competitive against a Packers team that some say is the best in the league, without their starting quarterback, is a credit to the team and the culture that John Harbaugh has built.
The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the success stories of the NFL this season. The NFL odds for the Cincinnati Bengals regular-season win total at the start of the year was 6.5. At 8-6, the Bengals have already surpassed expectations and cashed tickets for Bengals over bettors with still three games to go.
The Bengals turn around has been led by the impressive play of second-year quarterback Joe Burrow. Burrow has been accurate in his throws, steady in the pocket, and has shown toughness and leadership that his teammates admire.
Burrow's rise to the top of the league has been aided by the excellent weapons the Cincinnati Bengals front office has put around him. With Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd all playing wide receiver for the Bengals, Burrow has a nice variety of options with which to attack opposing defenses. A young quarterback's best friend is the running game, and Joe Mixon provides that friendship and support with his hard-nosed running style.
It is not a surprise that this Bengals offense is good. Yet it has been the play of the defense that has turned this team around. The Bengals held the Broncos to just 10 points in their victory on Sunday and it is fair to say that the defense keyed the victory. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was knocked out of the game. His backup QB Drew Lock could not find the weaknesses in this Bengals defense. We knew the Bengals would be strong on offense, but the defense has been a pleasant surprise for Cincinnati fans.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers vs. the Baltimore Ravens secondary. The Bengals have an excellent receiving corps and, at the start of the season, the Ravens had an excellent secondary. Unfortunately, injuries to CB Marcus Peters and CB Marlon Humphrey have greatly diminished the scale of the secondary. Still, the Ravens have one of the best-coached defenses in the NFL, and they often come up with creative schemes in order to mask their current lack of ability.
If the Bengals are able to have a big day with their wide receivers, they do have a good chance for victory.
If Baltimore can shut down Cincinnati's high-powered passing attack and turn it into a slugfest, the Ravens will have a big advantage.
The Ravens are an excellent football team but their health issues have definitely caught up to them. The Bengals are a team on the rise with an improved level of defense. They have a good chance to make waves in the playoffs with their potent offense and gunslinger QB.
I think their excellent wide receiving corps can take advantage of a weakened Ravens secondary to put up the requisite points needed to gain the lead. They then will rely on the running of RB Joe Mixon.
The Bengals will get it done at home. Lay the points. Take Cincinnati at one of our top-rated sportsbooks.
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