Baltimore Ravens (6-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)
If the Bengals hadn’t benched Andy Dalton, I would have been excited about betting them this week as double digit home underdogs against the Ravens. The Ravens got a huge win at home over the Patriots last week, but that actually works against their chances of covering this week, as teams are just 27-52 ATS since 2002 after 17+ point win as home underdogs. The last instance was the Titans falling flat 38-10 in Indianapolis a week after pulling a huge home upset over the Patriots. The Ravens played last week like it was their Super Bowl and will likely have a tough time getting up for a winless Bengals team, especially with another big game on deck against the Texans. Winless teams tend to be good bets this late in the season anyway, going 55-31 ATS in week 9 or later over the past 30 seasons, as winless teams tend to be undervalued and highly motivated to get their first win.
On top of that, as impressive as their win last week was, the Ravens have also won 3 games by a combined 15 points against 3 teams who are now a combined 7-17 (including a mere 6-point home victory over these Bengals) and they lost at home by 15 to a now 2-6 Browns team. If the Ravens don’t bring their a-game, this could easily be a close matchup. The Bengals are still missing AJ Green, but are healthier coming out of their bye than they’ve been for most of the season, with players like left tackle Cordy Glenn, defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson, and cornerbacks William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard all expected to play after missing varying amounts of time in the first half of the season.
Unfortunately, I can’t recommend a bet now that Dalton has been benched. Dalton’s statistical production has been arguably the worst of his career this season, but he’s also had the worst supporting cast he’s ever had around him. He was far from the problem for this winless team and benching him for 4th round rookie Ryan Finley is not a move the Bengals made to give themselves a better chance to win games this season. In a lost season, this is all about evaluating for the future, with the chance at drafting a franchise quarterback atop the draft very much in reach. The Bengals are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes, but I have this line calculated at Baltimore -10 with Finley under center, so we’re not getting enough points to bet the Bengals confidently.
Update: Glenn is still out for the Bengals despite practicing in full all week. That doesn’t change my pick, however, as I still like the Bengals chances of keeping this relatively close with the Ravens in a bad spot, but not enough to bet on it.
Baltimore Ravens 24 Cincinnati Bengals 16
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +10.5