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Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction and Preview

First place in the AFC North is on the line when the Ravens visit the Bengals

First place in the AFC North is on the line when the Ravens visit the Bengals

The Bengals and Ravens are tied at 8-6 atop the AFC North entering their big showdown Sunday in Cincinnati. These two met in Week 7 with Cincy overwhelming the home Ravens 41-17 in a matchup that saw Joe Burrow throw for 416 yards with 201 of those going to Ja'Marr Chase. Baltimore actually led 17-13 in the third quarter before the Bengals had four straight touchdowns to put the contest away. Lamar Jackson accounted for almost 350 yards of total offense in the loss.

Baltimore has lost three in a row and four of their last six as they literally limp down the stretch. Tyler Huntley started his second game, and for the second time during this losing skid, the Ravens fell short because of a failed two-point conversion. Huntley threw for 215 yards and ran for another 73 in the loss to the Packers. But the defense was gashed by Aaron Rodgers, who constantly had open receivers all over the field.

The Bengals picked up a huge road win over the Broncos 15-10 in a matchup that saw neither team hit 300 yards of total offense. Burrow was an efficient 15-of-22 for 157 yards and one touchdown passing while Joe Mixon ran for just 58 yards on 17 carries. Cincy's defense held tough in the fourth quarter to preserve the win. Credit also has to go to Evan McPherson, who kicked field goals of 53 and 58 yards.

Baltimore (8-6) at Cincinnati (8-6)

Kickoff: Sunday, Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Bengals -2.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Intangibles
The Ravens are playing their fifth road game over the last seven weeks and could be a little weary because of it. Baltimore's season closes at home with the Rams and Steelers, so things don't get any easier. I expect a fully focused effort from the road team. The Bengals are home for the fourth time in the last five weeks and actually will be home again next week when they take on the Chiefs. It should be noted that four of their six losses have come in Cincinnati.

2. Lamar Jackson
Will the Ravens' signal-caller be available for this one? He's only played 10 snaps the last two games because of an ankle injury. Huntley has been pretty solid for the Ravens the past two weeks, but he's not the franchise player Jackson is. Lamar has put together some of his best performances against the division rival, especially on the ground where he had a combined 100 rushing yards in two 2020 meetings. The Bengals have struggled at times against QBs with mobility, as Justin Fields had 31 yards and Trevor Lawrence put up 36.

3. Joe Burrow
Between COVID protocols and injuries, Baltimore's secondary is ravaged. Right now, they are looking at Anthony Averett and Tavon Young at cornerback with Marlon Humphrey and Jimmy Smith both out. Last week, Chase had just one catch for three yards on four targets, but it didn't hinder the Cincy offense. That's because Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have stepped up to become viable options. Not only that, tight end C.J. Uzomah has become a legit target as well.

Final Analysis

This is a huge game in the division, especially with the Browns losing last Monday. Cincy will be buzzing as the fans can taste a division crown. I think the Ravens' offense will be decent with Jackson or Huntley under center, but the injuries in their secondary will hurt here on Sunday. Expect a big effort from Burrow and Chase as the home team keeps the post-Christmas celebration going.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Ravens 16