Ravens vs. Bengals Picks and Predictions January 8th
RAVENS VS. BENGALS PICKS AND PREDICTIONS JANUARY 8TH – Joe Burrow vs. Anthony Brown. There, are we done?
The Ravens will be without star quarterback Lamar Jackson for the fifth consecutive week. Since losing him to a mysterious knee injury, the Ravens haven’t looked anything like the playoff team their record says they are, winning exactly 50 percent of their games.
Baltimore no longer has a shot at a division championship, but there is still a chance to host a playoff game. Because Cincinnati’s game against the Bills was canceled, even with a win on Sunday, the Ravens wouldn’t be able to match the Bengals’ season win percentage.
Now ordinarily that would mean Cincinnati would win the division and host a home playoff game, but due to the unprecedented nature of this past week, only one of those outcomes is a certainty.
The Ravens’ route to a home playoff game is as follows: A win against Cincinnati, plus a Chargers loss, plus a favorable coin flip. Yes, that last part is real.
If Baltimore beats the Bengals and the Chargers somehow lose to the lowly Broncos, a coin flip will determine which AFC North team must go on the road in the Wild Card round.
But don’t hold your breath, because according to ESPN’s matchup predictor, there’s a 3 percent chance all of that happens.
It Worked Last Time
Scarred by the J’marr Chase masterclass from a season ago, the Ravens blitzed Joe Burrow only three times in week five.
They played conservative zone coverage nearly the entire game and surrendered only 17 points. Baltimore’s front four is the weak link of an otherwise very talented unit, but they’ll have to have an uncharacteristically good day to pull this one off.
Fortunately, they face one of the worst offensive lines in the league. The Bengals’ big uglies were bad before they lost starting right tackle La’el Collins for the season.
Now it’s open season for pass rushers trying to hit Joe Burrow. Despite the subway turnstiles blocking for him, Joey B has been phenomenal this year.
The Bengals’ seven-game win streak can be largely attributed to Burrow’s processing. He’s been a field general, effortlessly dissecting nearly every opposing defense. For as great as he’s been, turnovers have been something of an issue.
They haven’t been awful, but he’s averaged an interception a game across his past six starts. Nobody knows how the events from Monday Night will affect the headspace of the Bengals.
It was a traumatic event that could have impacted their preparation for this game, so give them the benefit of the doubt if they come out a bit sluggish.
An Unwatchable Offense
Expect absolutely nothing out of the Ravens’ offense. If you go into this hoping for more than 10 points you will be disappointed.
They’re outmatched in every conceivable aspect against this Bengals defense. The Ravens’ having to start their third-string quarterback ensures this. Barring some unforeseen offensive awakening, the Ravens’ passing game will likely be as lackluster as it’s been the past four weeks without Lamar.
This means Baltimore’s run game will have to pick up the slack to make this contest competitive. It might be tough sledding, however, as Bengals defensive tackle D.J. Reader is back from the knee injury that sidelined him for seven weeks.
The run-stopper extraordinaire has transformed Cincinnati’s defense, enhancing the play of everyone around him.
Over the past three weeks, the Bengals’ defense has ranked fourth in yards per rush, allowing only 3.4 yards per carry.
Something’s gotta give as they face a Ravens rushing attack that’s ranked third in yards per carry over that same stretch.
It’ll likely be the Ravens that fold, as their lack of any threatening passing game means the Bengals can stack the box and sell out to stop the run.
The Ravens aren’t going to win this game. They may as well not even travel home afterwards because they’ll likely be facing these same Bengals in the Wild Card round.
The team is “confident Lamar Jackson will be back for the playoffs” per Ian Rapaport, and they’re going to need him to have any shot moving on to the second round.
My recommendation for any Ravens fans who force themself to suffer through this game is to fight the urge to be discouraged. A shot at redemption will present itself in one week, and hopefully, by then, our savior will have returned.