All four teams in the AFC North still have a chance to claim the division this year. This week, the Baltimore Ravens play the Cincinnati Bengals, with NFL betting lines listing the Bengals as 3-point favorites.
Can the Ravens score enough points this week to stay on top of the AFC North?
Baltimore at Cincinnati
- Date: Sunday, Dec. 26th
- Time: 1:00 P.M. EST on CBS
- Venue: Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH
- Participants: Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals
The Ravens have lost their last three games by a combined total of four points. On two occasions, a missed two-point conversion was the difference. This week, the Ravens will need to score early against the Cincinnati Bengals to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The Ravens are 1st in the NFL in time of possession, due in part to their 3rd-ranked rushing offense (144.7 yards per game). Almost a third of those ground yards have been gained by Lamar Jackson, who is questionable this week. Yet, there are still other options if the Ravens starter can’t go in Week 16 because of an ankle injury.
Tyler Huntley has shown he can carry this offense to the end zone in relief of Jackson. The rookie QB has completed 86 of his 125 passes for 743 yards and three touchdowns. Huntley also has the same 5.8 yards per rush average as Jackson.
The Ravens score a touchdown on 63.27% of their trips to the red zone. The problem for Baltimore is that they’ve struggled to score early in games. In the first half of games, the Ravens only average 10 points, which is 21st in the league.
Cincinnati is 17th in first-half points with 11.3, but in the last three games, the team has only scored an average of 8.3 points. The Bengals are second in the NFL in second-half points (14.6), so the Ravens will need to score early to keep up with the Bengals.
Baltimore Ravens Scoring
In road games, the Ravens have scored 19.4 points per game. The team averages 23.9 points per game, scoring 4.5 fewer points on the road. In this matchup, they may have an opportunity to score more in the first half and on the road through the air. The Bengals allow 249.8 yards per game through the air, the seventh-most in the league.
Even though Baltimore ranks 16th in scoring per game, they have the 12th most passing yards (240.9). I believe that they have the talent to pass the ball against the Bengals’ defense regardless of whether the starting quarterback is Jackson or Huntley.
The AFC North On the Line
The Baltimore Ravens know how important a win in Week 16 is for their playoff chances. The same holds for the Cincinnati Bengals, so this game promises to be one of the best of the holiday weekend. I believe that the Ravens will pass the ball well against Cincinnati, winning a close game 28-24.
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