Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction: Can Joe Burrow Cash a Big Upset in Baltimore?

NFL expert Ben Gretch is here with his best bets and prediction for the battle this Sunday for the AFC North division between the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals.
Ben Gretch
Sat, October 23, 12:55 PM EDT

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction: Can Joe Burrow Cash Big Upset in Baltimore?

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Sunday, October 24, 2021

Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: CBS

  • Key Stat: The Bengals defense ranks third-best in yards per play allowed. Baltimore’s offense is fourth in the NFL in yards per play.

Click Here For Ravens vs. Bengals Odds

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction

The Bengals have been one of 2021’s surprise teams, in the sense that their 4-2 record doesn’t really glare at you as a fluke, and they’ve been at least solidly in the middle of the pack in the NFL. Maybe that’s not extremely surprising to some, but they entered the season with a win over/under of just 6.5. They look well on their way to cruising past that number, despite a pretty bad loss to the Bears in Week 2 and a really tough-to-swallow overtime loss to the Packers in Week 5 that featured multiple missed late field goals on both sides, but certainly chances for the Bengals to complete the upset.

It could be said that the Bengals haven’t played a particularly tough set of opponents — they’ve beaten the Vikings, Steelers, Jaguars, and Lions — but that might also mask that they seem to be improving, particularly on offense. After starting the season as a team with a heavy run lean and a very slow pace, the Bengals have crept up in both categories over the past three weeks relative to Weeks 1-3. That we have a good reason for this shift — Joe Burrow’s rehab being a reason for the Bengals to take things slow early in the year — makes it easier to buy into.

Burrow has been efficient as a passer in his second season, notably gelling quickly with former college teammate and No. 5 overall pick Ja’Marr Chase. Any increase in passing volume is a great sign. Tee Higgins has been banged up but has more or less been fine when on the field and was fantastic as a rookie in his own right in 2020. And defensively, the Bengals haven’t faced many tough offenses. However, they’ve still taken care of business, posting top-six success rates against both the run and pass and allowing the third-fewest yards per play to opposing offenses.

So are they for real? It’s hard to say, but the recent results as their offense has picked up are promising. The early Bears loss wasn’t good, and they had to come from behind to beat the Jaguars on Thursday Night Football in Week 4, but their last two results are perhaps their most impressive — taking Green Bay to overtime and easily handing the Lions last week.

They head to Baltimore this week as 6.5-point underdogs, and with an over/under of 45.5, that has been bet down. The Ravens have been pass-heavier this year, especially when needing to be, but last week in a big win over the Chargers, they shifted back to a heavy run lean. But without Latavius Murray in this one and with their overall trends to date shifting more toward the pass, there’s reason to believe Baltimore will throw early, and the game’s best shot to go under is the Ravens getting out to a lead and suffocating the game with a ball-control, clock-draining rushing attack.

I’m seeing this game differently. I’m buying to the extent that things have materially shifted for the Bengals after their mini-bye following Week 4’s Thursday night contest. From an efficiency standpoint, both of these teams’ better units are their offenses, and I think Cincinnati can stick with Baltimore enough to elevate play volume and go over this number. I also like the 6.5 points we get in what might be a closer game than one would immediately expect.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Picks

Ben Gretch
@YardsPerGretch
Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.
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