Cincinnati Bengals (0-0) at Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
|Date & Time||Sunday September 7, 2014, 1:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Baltimore Ravens -2 -- Over/Under: 44
The Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals face off on Sunday in Baltimore as they kick off their 2014 NFL regular seasons with an AFC Central rivalry game.
The Baltimore Ravens missed the playoffs last season after winning the Super Bowl the prior season and they appear focused to get back to the top. Joe Flacco is back at QB and while doesn’t have a high completion percentage he has emerged as a leader and converts on the big plays downfield. Ray Rice is sitting with a suspension but he wasn’t his best last season and Bernard Pierce is game tested. The Ravens’ receiving group looks better than ever with Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, and tight end Dennis Pitta and the addition of Steve Smith from Carolina. Defensively last season the Ravens had a lot to replace as far as experience with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed leaving but Baltimore has gotten younger with C.J. Mosley out of Alabama starting at LB and Mat Elam in the secondary at SS while holdovers and leaders Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs still having plenty in the tank. The Ravens will be a better team this season but winning games in the division are going to be a deciding factor.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been playoff teams the past three seasons but Marvin Lewis is still looking for his first playoff win as a Head Coach. Andy Dalton has another year of experience under his belt and the hopes are this is the year the Red Rifle leads the Bengals to the next level. Giovani Bernard leads the rushing attack and he could elevate his game to be among the best in the NFL this season, Bernard has that kind of talent. A.J. Green is already among the best WR’s in the game but Marvin Jones starts the season on the sidelines with a broken foot so Mohamed Sanu will get more action and look for Cincinnati to run two tight end sets with Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Geno Atkins anchors a defensive line that has undergone some changes and Carlos Dunlap will be expected to anchor the pass push. Vontaze Burfict just signed a contract extension and the Bengals are 5 deep at corner led by Leon Hall, Terrnace Newman, and Adam Jones. The Bengals have been among he best in the NFL inr ecent years but they are going to need to be better if they hope to advance further in the playoffs.
Baltimore is 2-5 against the spread against the AFC, 5-1 against the spread in week 1, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five games. Cincinnati is 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games, 2-6-1 against the spread in their last nine road games, and 1-4-1 against the spread in week 1. The home team has covered the point spread in the last four meetings of these two.
The Bengals have been the better team recently but a road opener is never a great spot and with the number less than a field goal my pick is just a lean to the Ravens.
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