Week 11 gives us an important divisional matchup this Thursday between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses in Week 10 as both teams closed as 6 point+ favorites.
The Bengals lost a tough one to the Houston Texans, capped off by Tyler Boyd dropping a potential game winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Joe Burrow has finally looked healthy after starting the season with a lingering calf injury. Unfortunately for the Bengals, they were without WR Tee Higgins and WR Ja’Marr Chase was nursing a back injury.
The Texans, surprisingly, got a ton of pressure on Burrow (40% of drop backs), resulting in 4 sacks and multiple errant throws from Burrow. The defense did not hold up, letting Devin Singletary run for 150 yards and allowing CJ Stroud to carve up the secondary for over 350 yards.
They face another tall task in the Baltimore Ravens, and the #2 ranked defensive unit in terms of DVOA. The Ravens defense doesn’t generate an elite pressure rate, but certainly gets pressure in a timely matter as the #1 team in sacks.
Importantly, the Ravens has also been the league’s #2 unit in coverage as per PFF, which is significant with the Bengals wide receiver room not having much time to get healthier on the short week. Tee Higgins is expected to remain out, although Ja’Marr Chase was removed from the injury report.
For the Ravens, Week 10 was another example of a game they could not put away, allowing the Browns to come back and defeat them 33-31. Lamar Jackson threw two interceptions including an extremely untimely pick six that could have tied the game for Cleveland if not for a missed extra point.
The Ravens are an elite team by all metrics, but it’s these late game meltdowns and inability to close out that have left me with a somewhat sour taste in my mouth about their playoff fate. The Ravens have led each of their 10 games going into the fourth quarter yet sit with a 7-3 record.
With the line for this game set at -3.5/-4, I’m a little weary to lay those points against an offense in the Bengals that has the ability to come back on anyone. Baltimore seems ripe for a back door despite the importance of this game to cement their lead in the AFC North.
I like a first half angle in this one and would lay -2.5 with the Ravens to cover this number. The Bengals will be without both Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson which should bode well for the Ravens offense. The Bengals just gave up a career high to Devin Singletary and the Texans with their 29th ranked run defense per PFF and now head into Baltimore on a short week to try and contain Lamar Jackson and company.
Todd Monken has slowly worked in undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell who has been fantastic in limited snaps. Gus Edwards has been great in the absence of JK Dobbins, and I expect him to still dominate the goal line carries. Lamar Jackson looks more comfortable in the first half of games while the defense is fresh and winning the field position battle.
Without two of their more important defensive players, I have a hard time seeing the Bengals containing the Ravens offense in this one. I’d make the Ravens 1H -2.5 a 1.5% play. I also lean towards the under in this one at 46, despite being pushed up from the lookahead of 44.
I think this has bumped up given that Burrow looks healthy but given the short week and the injury bug in the WR room, I’m not running to attack the total in this one. Should Lamar and company look as strong as I’m expecting in the 1H of this game, I think we’ll get an opportunity to find a live under.