Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#253 Cincinnati Bengals 48 vs.
#254 Baltimore Ravens -10.5
Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 1:00pm EDT
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#253 Cincinnati
#254 Baltimore
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When and where: October 13, 2019, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD, 1:00 PM ET

The winless Cincinnati Bengals go on the road for an AFC North divisional showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Injuries and incompetence have destroyed the Bengals’ playoff hopes in the first five weeks of the season. Even after moving on from former head coach Marvin Lewis, the stench of losing still sticks to them like a bad cologne. Perhaps it’s time to pull the cord and start over from scratch entirely.

After losing to the Arizona Cardinals, they’ll try their luck against the struggling Ravens, who were fortunate to leave with a win over the Mason Rudolph-led Pittsburgh Steelers. There are some serious concerns relating to the Ravens’ chances of contending for a championship this year. They may not even make the playoffs.

Who is to blame in Cincinnati?

Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was never the answer in Cincinnati, and he clearly wasn’t the only problem, either. The Bengals have yet to even win a game without him on the sidelines. No, that doesn’t mean the team was better off with him as the coach. I shouldn’t have to remind you of the 16 seasons of mediocrity Bengals fans were subjected to in the Lewis era.

Injuries have been a big problem for the Bengals this year with star receiver A.J. Green being unavailable and John Ross recently going on injured reserve. The team has also been plagued by inconsistent play on the offensive front, which has allowed quarterback Andy Dalton to get sacked for a third-worst 20 times in the first five games of the season.

So you can expect Ravens coach John Harbaugh to dial up ways to bring pressure in the pocket. This isn’t the Boogeyman Ravens defense like past teams, but they have the talent to make it a long day for the Bengals offense. Sunday might be a tough day for Bengals running back Joe Mixon running against a legitimate top-10 rushing defense. Mixon is a good tailback with some upside, but he also isn’t Browns running back Nick Chubb, who ran all over the Ravens defense. That heaps even more pressure on Dalton to throw against a Ravens secondary that has struggled in recent weeks.

The Bengals’ defense has been absolutely atrocious against the run and pass, leaving for a scenario for fans to hold their collective breath every time Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has the ball in his hands. Their ability to contain Jackson and make him deliver accurate throws from the pocket will be the difference between winning and losing. It’s also something we haven’t seen the unit prove it’s capable of doing all season.

Has the Lamar Jackson Show been exposed?

Earlier in the season, fans seemed eager to crown Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson as one of the best up-and-coming playmakers in the league. Never mind the fact that he was running up and down the field against bad defenses in the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. However, the struggles started the moment he ran into decent defenses.

In his last couple games against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, he has thrown a total of five interceptions. His accuracy and decision-making in the pocket is being exposed, and teams are going to continue to try to take advantage when he’s behind center. Granted, he’s a 22-year-old player flashing unbelievable talent at times, and he’ll continue to improve as he settles into the pro-style offense.

But it does lay out a good blueprint for the Bengals to focus their defensive efforts in slowing down the run and making Jackson beat them with his arm. That’s obviously easier said than done considering they’re one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the league. Speaking of defense, the days of imposing fear in opposing offenses is over for the Ravens. They are giving up an average of 280.0 passing yards per game, which ranks as the fourth-worst in the league. Cornerback Jimmy Smith being out with an injury isn’t helping matters, either.

The offense could also be without standout rookie receiver Marquise "Hollywood” Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. Both are listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday’s game.

Update: Brown and starting inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor are considered game-time decisions for Sunday. Onwuasor has missed practice all week along with Brown.

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The AFC North division isn’t the open and shut case most thought in the first couple weeks of the season. Along with the Browns, the Ravens are showing they’re a young team dealing with growing pains in the rebuilding cycle. Jackson is turning the football over at an alarming rate, and the defense has fallen off a cliff since the first three weeks of the season.

Yet, the Bengals don’t exactly present much of a threat to attack those weaknesses. Dalton will likely be without Green for at least another week, leaving him with limited passing options against a Ravens defense that should be eager to send a message after back-to-back tough weeks. Mixon will run into a wall against a Ravens defensive front only giving up 90.2 rushing yards per game.

The Bengals also haven’t shown the ability to consistently generate pressure on defense. That weakness combined with their inability to stop the run is the worst combination of problems heading into a road game against the Ravens with Jackson behind center. Give me the Ravens and the points on Saturday.

Prediction: Baltimore Ravens (-12)

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Don’t expect to see Jackson slinging the ball all over the field on Sunday. Harbaugh will rein in his young quarterback and get back to focusing on the run-option offense and attacking the Bengals’ porous rushing defense. This will be a slow, painful and methodical decimation to keep the Bengals winless this season. I’m taking the under betting total here.

Prediction: Under (48)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.