Baltimore Ravens starting quarterback Joe Flacco will “be back for the Bengals game,” aka both teams’ NFL betting regular season opener. That’s what head coach John Harbaugh promised us and, luckily for him, it seems he won’t have to eat crow (which would actually make him a cannibal). Flacco returned to practice on Saturday and will “be ready to play,” Harbaugh added, though some don’t believe he’ll be able to deliver on that part of his promise.
- Date: Sunday, September 10th
- Time: 1:00 PM
- Venue: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
- Sportsbook NFL Online Betting Odds:
Ravens +3 (-110) 42½ (-110) +135
Bengals -3 (-110) 42½ (-110) -155
Be a Peyton, not an RG3
According to ESPN Stats & Info, only three quarterbacks have played after missing the entire preseason with an injury; Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Robert Griffin III. Brady sustained a season-ending knee injury in the opening game of 2008 while RG3 went from 20 passing touchdowns and five picks in his rookie year to 16 TDs and 12 picks in 2013. Conversely, Peyton Manning won his third NFL Most Valuable Player award in 2008. All of which is to say that Flacco has his work cut out for him. Flacco – who had not missed a single training camp practice in his nine-year career – has not targeted Mike Wallace or Breshad Perriman longer than one season, and has had just three practices with Jeremy Maclin. Flacco and his receiving unit will have only four practices and two walkthroughs before hitting Cincy.
The Ravens have lost five and only covered in one of their last seven meetings with the Bengals. The NFL betting total has gone over in 80% of Baltimore’s last five games.
All’s well that begins well
The Bengals posted a losing record and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2010 last season. A cynic would say it makes no difference whether or not Cincy makes the postseason since starting quarterback Andy Dalton has never won a playoff game in his career. On the other hand, he did have his second-best year ever last season. All things considered, 2016 could have been an anomaly – after all, even the best teams have an off season (and all teams have an offseason) – and a strong start would be the best way to make sure it stays an anomaly. The offense – including running backs Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill, and Giovanni Bernard, wide receiver A.J. Green, and tight end Tyler Eifert – can be, as Mixon described it, “electrifying.” On defense, however, the Bengals will have to get used to not having linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first three games of the season. Oh wait; they must be more than used being without him by now. The guy spends more time suspended than David Blaine.
Even without him, though, as CBS Chicago puts it, “The Bengals’ defense can create quite a bit of havoc for opposing offenses, but this unit often loses its discipline and steps over the line.” So maybe it’s not just Burfict.
The Bengals are 5-0 straight-up and 4-1 against the spread in their last five times hosting the Ravens. The NFL betting total has gone under in seven of Cincy’s last eight contests.