Week 16 football betting features critical matchups that will help determine playoff positioning. This week’s game featuring the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals is no exception. Can Cincinnati cover the three-point spread with a division title on the line, or will Baltimore get the upset victory on the road?
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
In the last three games, the Baltimore Ravens have lost by a total of four points. One play could have made the difference between a loss and a win in these games. Yet, these close scores have been a familiar pattern for most of this season.
The Ravens haven’t won a game by more than six points since their 34-6 win over the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6. In that game, Baltimore had the ball for more than 38 minutes. So why have they been unable to close out wins?
Relying on quarterback Lamar Jackson for almost one-third of their rushing offense is a good reason why Baltimore is 8-6 and fighting for a playoff spot. The Ravens have the 12th-ranked passing offense and rank fifth in overall offensive yards per game. Yet Jackson has passed for only 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. Part of the reason for this is because of injuries.
Jackson could be inactive for this game, which means the Ravens will have to ride the arm of Tyler Huntley, who did an admirable job against the Green Bay Packers. In a one-point loss, Huntley was 28-40 for 215 yards and two TDs. He also ran for 73 yards and two scores on 13 carries. Huntley could have another solid performance against the Bengals’ 26th-ranked pass defense.
This year, Joe Mixon has gained 1094 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Cincinnati Bengals. Despite those numbers, the Bengals only rank 20th in rushing. They could have problems rushing the ball against the Ravens’ rush defense, which allows the fewest rushing yards per game in the league (86.2).
In the Bengals’ Week 7 blowout win over the Ravens, Cincinnati decided to attack the Ravens’ 31st-ranked pass defense (264.9 yards per game) instead of trying to run. They only attempted 24 rushes, while Joe Burrows was 23-38 for 416 yards and three TDs in the 41-17 win.
Ravens at Bengals (-3)
Despite the Bengals being at home, they are only slight favorites.
Baltimore’s pass defense has struggled this year, but Cincinnati’s hasn’t fared much better. They allow the seventh-most passing yards per game (249.8) and the sixth-most at home (249.8). The Bengals have the fourth-best defense against the run, only allowing 95.9 yards per game.
Whether Jackson or Huntley starts for the Ravens, I believe that they’ll try to exploit this weakness. I also think that Cincinnati will try to do the same thing they did in their first matchup.
To me, the most significant factor in this game is the health of Joe Mixon and Lamar Jackson. Both players will give their respective teams the ability to gain yards on the ground, forcing the defense to respect the run instead of rushing the passer relentlessly. With Jackson in the game, the Bengals’ defense will need to have at least one linebacker spy the quarterback instead of dropping back into coverage.
If Lamar Jackson plays, I like the Ravens in this matchup. If he’s out and Joe Mixon plays, I like the Bengals. Regardless, I’m waiting until the injury report on Friday to make a final selection.
Which Team Do You Like in Week 16?
This game will go a long way towards deciding which team will win their division. A win by either team puts them in the drivers’ seat in the AFC North, and a loss could knock the other team out of the playoffs.
The Ravens at Bengals has all the makings for a classic in Week 16. Which NFL bets do you like this week? Open an account today with the best sportsbook at BetMGM for a risk-free initial bet of up to $1,000.