Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens - 9/7/14
Cincinnati Bengals (11-5) at Baltimore Ravens (8-8)
NFL Football: Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm (M&T Bank Stadium)
The Line: Baltimore Ravens -1.5 -- Over/Under: 44 See the Latest Odds
The Ravens and Bengals meet up in Baltimore on Sunday as these two bitter rivals look to gain the upper hand in the AFC North division.
The Bengals were the only team from the AFC North to make the playoffs in 2013 and have to be the favourite to win the division once again this season with their swarming defense and underrated offense led by AJ Green. Cincy opened the chequebook for Andy Dalton in the offseason and is the quarterback of the future for the stripes as they look to assert themselves once again as one of the NFL’s best teams on both sides of the ball. The Bengals have a strong offense led by Dalton, Green, Gio Bernard, and Jeremy Hill and they will have to build on the run game this season if they want to get Green and Tyler Eifert open down field and give them options in the red zone. Hill has looked great in the preseason forcing Benjarvus Green-Ellis to the free agent pool and could siphon some touches away from the versatile Bernard but against teams within the division it’ll be important to generate variety and change of pace which is what they face here on the road against the Ravens.
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Baltimore is two seasons removed from winning the Super Bowl but couldn’t buck the trend last year of Super Bowl winners missing the playoffs the following year and they’ll have their work cut out for them to get back to the postseason this year. The Ravens struggled to find an identity on defense last year after losing Ray Lewis to retirement and while Terrell Suggs is still there it seems tough to fathom he is the same type of leader as Lewis despite being an incredible talent. The Ravens will rely on the Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith connection this season and the return of Dennis Pitta to the fold makes the Ravens a much better unit through the air and one that will have to improve from a disappointing campaign a year ago. While Ray Rice is suspended for this one Bernard Pierce should have an opportunity to gain some yards on the ground though the Bengals are a very solid defensive squad that will be playing with purpose in their season opener. This is a very tough game to call as I think the Ravens will be improved this year but the Bengals are the better team and have more game breakers than the Ravens so the line seems about right. In the end I am going to side with the Ravens as I think Justin Tucker’s leg will be the difference in a game that comes down to the wire.