Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens
Date and Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Opening NFL Odds: Ravens -10
Ravens vs. Bengals TV Coverage: CBS
The Bengals are finished this season, and just like so many other teams in Week 17, they're far better served losing than winning so they can move up in the NFL Draft.
Though this is a team that looked like it gave up around Thanksgiving, the Bengals showed some rare fight last week when they eliminated the Lions from playoff contention with a 26-17 victory. It was their best offensive showing of the season against any team that has a win this year (scoring 30 and 31 points in two games against the Browns doesn't really count, does it?).
Andy Dalton will look to make some major amends after a Week 1 loss to the Ravens in which he threw four interceptions. Joe Flacco could barely throw the ball in that game, the first time he was on the field all year long after offseason surgery. Dalton, though, did his team no favors and couldn't even get a single point on the board in the 20-0 loss.
It would take a lot for the Ravens to not get into the playoffs at this point. Baltimore can get into the playoffs if the Bills or Titans lose in Week 17. Or, the team can just take care of business, beat the Bengals, and head to Kansas City next week for Wild Card weekend.
The Ravens have really played well since their bye week, winning five of their six games and losing to the Steelers by a narrow point on December 10 in a game that easily could have been won. The team has averaged 29.7 points per game since that point, and when Flacco and the gang are playing that well offensively, this is an incredibly tough team to beat.
Part of the reason why the Ravens walked away from Cincinnati in Week 1 was because of its ground game. None of the numbers were overwhelming, but Terrance West and Buck Allen combined to have the ball in their guts 40 times for 151 yards with a touchdown.
If Baltimore can run the ball 40+ times in this game, good things are bound to happen. The Bengals rank No. 31 in the NFL against the run, conceding 128.5 yards per game.
Geno Atkins has had another really good season for the Bengals, but he's the only defensive lineman that really holds his own along their line.
The names are a little different now in the Baltimore backfield with Danny Woodhead taking a bigger role virtually every week and Alex Collins leading the team in rushing, but the formula is going to be exactly the same.
Bengals vs. Ravens Free Picks
Sure, the Bengals haven't been good for most of this year, but they seem to have been picked up a bit by the news that Marvin Lewis isn't having his contract renewed at the end of this season. They played arguably their best game of the year against the Lions last week when they had nothing to play for and Detroit needed everything to break its way to stay alive. Can they do that again versus the Ravens?
The matchup isn't great from a statistical standpoint, but these AFC North games aren't blowouts often. Getting a whopping 10 points from the top NFL sportsbooks feels like a little bit of a late Christmas gift, and we're intent to take advantage of that in the final week of the regular season in a game that could come down to the final drive.
NFL ATS Pick: Bengals +10 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Ravens 27, Bengals 20