Gridiron Experts

Thursday Night Football Preview: Ravens at Bengals

Thursday Night Football Preview: Ravens at Bengals

Ravens at Bengals Preview

Ravens -1 | Over/Under 45.5

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The season is in full swing, and Week 1 gave us a glimpse of what we can expect from the 2018 season. For Week 2’s Thursday Night contestants, their Week 1 stories couldn’t have been more different. Joe Flacco & the Ravens dismantled the Buffalo Bills, putting up 47 points, and holding the Bills scoreless aside from a lowly 3rd Quarter field goal.

On the other hand, the Cincinnati Bengals mounted a ferocious 4th Quarter comeback. Andy Dalton & Co. trailed the Colts 23-10 in the 3rd Quarter, before putting up 24 unanswered points, and taking the game 34-23.  When these two teams meet up, anything can happen.

Between the AFC North “bad blood,” and their history of close games, this one will surely be a battle. Throw in the curveball of it being a Thursday Night Football game, and an early season showdown, and this one could truly go either way. Vegas agrees as the Ravens are a -1 favorite heading into this matchup, according to MyBookie, our official sportsbook for 2018.

Last Week, the Ravens were led by Joe Flacco, who posted a workmanlike 263 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 of 34 passing. Flacco spread the ball out, with 9 different players logging receptions, and 7 of them logging 3+ receptions. Their new-look WR corps provided a spark, with John Brown, Willie Snead, and Michael Crabtree each reeling in a TD. Additionally, all 3 TEs were utilized, with Maxx Williams, Nick Boyle and Mark Andrews tallying 3 catches apiece.

On the ground, Kenneth Dixon out carried Alex Collins 13 to 7 before sustaining a knee injury that is likely to hold him out for some time. Although he fumbled last week, I expect Collins to regain his lion’s share of the carries this week, and pace the backfield with Buck Allen as his #2. Let’s not forget about Lamar Jackson, a potential X-Factor for the Ravens, who pitched in 7 rushes for 39 yards, and completed a 24-yard pass to Williams. While some might think Jackson simply accrued stats in garbage time during the blowout, that’s not the case. Jackson appeared in the 1st Quarter for a few plays as a change-of-pace, so don’t be shocked if he remains a part of the gameplan moving forward.

On Defense, the Ravens were simply dominant, yielding only 70 yards passing and 83 yards rushing. Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson each picked off Bills QB (for the moment) Nathan Peterman, while the unit combined for 6 sacks. Admittedly, the Bills aren’t the best barometer by which to judge this defense’s potency. However, you couldn’t have asked for much more out of them either. We’ll see how they handle a bigger challenge on Thursday night when they travel to Cincinnati, a team flush with budding talent.

Cincinnati’s offense impressed in Week 1, as they charged back to defeat Andrew Luck and the Colts. Joe Mixon was especially impressive, posting 95 yards rushing, along with a touchdown. Mixon also caught 5 balls on 7 targets for 54 yards. On Tuesday, Marvin Lewis noted that he “liked” Mixon’s usage in the passing game and that he believes he can carry the ball up to 22 times a game. Given that, we can expect Mixon to be a focal point of the offense moving forward.

Andy Dalton was pretty solid as well, passing for 243 yards and 2 TD, to go along with an INT. Dalton targeted AJ Green 8 times, and Green impressed, logging 6 catches for 98 yards and a 38-yard TD. Tyler Eifert and Tyler Boyd both worked their way into the gameplan, logging 3 catches apiece, and John Ross snagged his first career touchdown on an acrobatic grab. Clearly, the Bengals have a lot of weapons; but they’ll have a much tougher task on their hands on Thursday than they did with the lowly Colts defense last weekend.

In Week 1, the Bengals Defense made timely plays and turned it on when they needed to, holding the Colts scoreless in the 4th Quarter. They forced two interceptions, sacking Andrew Luck twice, and safety Clayton Fejedelem (what an electric name) returned a fumble 83 yards to put an exclamation point on the victory. Fejedelem added 9 tackles, while LB Nick Vigil had 11 to lead the team. Up front, the Bengals are stout with studs Geno Atkins, Ryan Glasgow and Carlos Dunlap clogging up the line of scrimmage. Alex Collins might have issues breaking through the line of scrimmage if these three playmakers perform to their potential on Thursday Night.

The Bengals will need to find their 4th Quarter mojo and more timely plays if they hope to slow down the potent Baltimore offense we saw in Week 1. If they play like they did in the first three quarters, they might see this game slip away from them.

The Pick

After Week 1, it’s likely that this division will be one of Football’s toughest this year. No matter the season, or the circumstance, these AFC North matchups are always nail biters. While the Bengals are the home team, the Ravens are a -1 favorite at this time. I don’t expect either team to score the amount of points they did in Week 1, but when the chips are on the table, I believe the Bengals have more playmakers to make a difference in a tight affair.

I’ll take the Bengals +1, and to win the game outright, 19-16.

Brad Castronovo

A former D1 College Wrestler at Boston University, Brad hails from Bridgewater, NJ. By day, Brad works in the corporate automotive world, but by night, he is an avid sports, football, and fantasy sports enthusiast with a passion for winning. Over the past decade, Brad has won dozens of fantasy league championships and was recently brought on as the co-host of the DFS Dive podcast. Brad is a diehard Tennessee Titans fan, and, accordingly has dumped a ton of money into NFL Sunday Ticket in his years! Please share your comments, critiques, and feedback-- as Brad loves it when his readers/listeners help stir the pot!

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