📅 Date: Sunday, January, 15
🕚 Game Time: 8 pm
📺 How To Watch: NBC
Sunday night’s NFL playoff slate includes the third and final game on the day, the Baltimore Ravens visiting the Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens are currently at 10-7, having lost three of their five previous games. The Ravens will be without Lamar Jackson, their former league MVP, as he recovers from a knee injury. With a record of 12-4, the Bengals have won eight consecutive games, including defeating the Ravens in the season’s final game. This year, the AFC North rivals have split their series, each winning its home match. The kickoff will take place at 8:15 EST.
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It has been the Ravens’ next man up since the start of the 2022 NFL season; injuries have plagued this team for the last few years. The Ravens secured their wildcard spot despite Jackson’s absence. This is a testament to the Ravens running offense. Jackson was out for five games during the regular season, which led to a 2-3 record and lower offensive numbers. The Ravens are further challenged by the inability to get back up Tyler Huntley healthy. However, Huntley went 2-2 and was forced to miss the Cincinnati finale due to a shoulder injury. Although he has not been able to practice much this week, he was still throwing passes by Thursday in hopes of being ready for Sunday. The Ravens should have all of their running backs available for this game. JK Dobbins was kept out in the last game to make sure he was available for Sunday’s game. Gus Edwards, Kenyan Drake and Dobbins can be used out of the backfield as receivers and runners by the Ravens. Although the Bengals have struggled to cover the tight end this season, the Ravens have Mark Andrews, one of the most skilled in the NFL. After a career-high in receiving yards last week against the Bengals, rookie tight end Isaiah Likely may also feature prominently in the passing attack.
The Ravens have tightened up defensively with Jackson out. To give the struggling offense an opportunity to win, the team has allowed only 17 points per game in the last three games. Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, linebackers, lead an attack that ranks third in the NFL against the run and third in the NFL for points allowed. The Ravens rank third in the NFL for red zone defense. The Ravens’ pass defense is a concern. As they prepare to face the Bengals’ high-powered offense, they are 26th in the NFL for their pass defense. The team also has Marcus Peters, one of their cornerbacks, out of action. Peters missed the final game of the season due to a calf injury. Peters and Marlon Humphrey (shoulder), a fellow CB, will be needed by the Ravens to take on the Bengals’ air attack.
With the tragedy of the Monday night game against the Bills, the Bengals missed an opportunity to earn, at least, the #2 seed in the AFC. Cincinnati players were upset to learn that if they win this week, they will have to win in Buffalo next week to make it to the AFC Championship. The Bengals won last week’s game against the Ravens by a score of 27-16. One week later, the Bengals will face the Ravens again in the rubber match of their three-game set. The Bengals must defeat their AFC North Division counterparts to defend their AFC Championship. Cincinnati, especially quarterback Joe Burrow, comes into this game in good health. Burrow had a difficult preseason, which saw him having his appendix removed. He also showed wear and tear during a slow start that saw the Bengals go 4-4.
Burrow also lost J’Marr Chase, his favorite receiver, for several weeks. The Bengals have won eight straight games. Burrow has completed 67% and thrown 18 touchdowns in that span. On Sunday, Burrow will be joined by his full complement of receivers: Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, Chase and Tyler Boyd. He also has two healthy backs in Joe Mixon (and Samaje Perine). Although the Bengals’ offensive line has improved significantly from last season, they will be without Alex Cappa (an ankle injury). The Bengals are the NFL’s seventh-highest-scoring offense and fifth-best passing attack. They are fifth in the league for red-zone play. Cincinnati is ranked sixth in turnover differential.
Burrow and Chase are often linked with the Bengals’ offense, but the Cincinnati defense has been strong this season. Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard and Logan Wilson have combined for 14.5 tackles as edge rushers. Linebacker Logan Wilson is one of the most underrated players in football. Cincinnati is the NFL’s 7th-best run defense and has been even more impressive in the last three weeks. The Bengals have allowed just 87 yards on the ground in that period. The Bengals are a little more vulnerable to the pass and rank 23rd in NFL. You should not overlook the fact that many teams have to throw to catch up against the Bengals. Red zone defense by the Bengals ranks 9th in NFL.
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The Bengals are the better team here, and the Ravens’ injuries make that difference way too big to overcome. Huntley looks like he will start and have his weapons back. The -8.5 worries me some in a division game where the teams know each other so well. In the end, the Bengals are just the better team.
If you are betting on the Bengals to cover the -8.5, the payoff will be decent, and I think the Bengals will cover the points. For example, a few days before the game, the odds range to -110 if you are betting on the Bengals and giving the -8.5 points. If you bet 100 on the Bengals and give the points, the payoff will be at -110; the payout won would be 191 dollars, which means you would get back the 100 you bet and the other 91 for winning the bet.
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