Marvin Lewis and the Bengals have overcome a lot of adversity at various points throughout the last decade.
They’re hoping Week 12 is the latest example of that when undermanned Cincinnati heads to Baltimore for a clash with the AFC North rival Ravens. They’ll do so without the services of All-Pro receiver A.J. Green.
Though it was originally thought that Green would miss the rest of the season with a torn hamstring, the Bengals are saying the injury is just a week-to-week strain.
Still, it means the Bengals’ best offensive player may now be tight end Tyler Eifert, who becomes the team’s most reliable pass-catcher. Eifert caught three passes for 37 yards against the Bills in Week 11.
Through four games since returning from offseason ankle surgery, Eifert has just one touchdown on the season, but now that Green is out, the Pro Bowl tight end should see more red-zone targets.
As for how the Bengals get to the red zone, it will have to be without star running back Giovani Bernard. One of the best dual-threat backs in the NFL, Bernard tore his ACL last week, leaving Cincinnati without their No. 1 (Green) and 2 (Bernard) pass-catchers this season.
This is bad news for quarterback Andy Dalton, must now rely on the likes of Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd in addition to Eifert. LaFell and Boyd have combined for as many receptions this season (66) as Green, while totaling nearly 200 fewer receiving yards.
Losing that much offensive production is why very few people are picking Cincinnati to win in Baltimore this week.
This game has been one of the most easier games to call in Week 12. Baltimore has been favored since the opening lines came out, and it’s not changed going into the weekend.
As of Saturday morning, the Bengals come into this game as a 4-point favorite, according to OddsShark. Some oddsmakers have had Baltimore pegged as little as a 1-point favorite, but they’re getting at least a field goal across the board now.
Here are some of the recent betting trends for both teams, courtesy of OddsShark:
- Cincinnati is 1-5 against the spread in its last 6 games
- Cincinnati is 1-4-1 straight up in its last 6 games
- Cincinnati is 0-4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games on the road
- Cincinnati is 1-5 straight up in its last 6 games on the road
- The total has gone under in 6 of Cincinnati's last 8 games on the road
- Baltimore is 2-6 against the spread in its last 8 games
- Baltimore is 2-5 straight up in its last 7 games
- The total has gone under in 4 of Baltimore's last 6 games
- Baltimore is 4-2 against the spread in its last 6 games at home
- Baltimore is 4-11-1 against the spread in its last 16 games at home
- Baltimore is 4-2 straight up in its last 6 games at home
- The total has gone under in 5 of Baltimore's last 6 games at home
- Cincinnati is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games when playing Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 8-16-1 against the spread in its last 25 games when playing on the road against Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 7-18 straight up in its last 25 games when playing on the road against Baltimore
- The total has gone under in 6 of Cincinnati's last 9 games when playing on the road against Baltimore
To n surprise, most of the experts are picking Baltimore to win.
- Over at CBS Sports, their eight experts all went with the Ravens.
- At ESPN, all of their nine experts also think the Ravens will win it.
- At SB Nation, it's a similar spread with all nine picks coming in for Baltimore.
- FOX Sports’ six-man crew features one picker going with the Bengals while the other five picked the Ravens.
- What If Sports projects a 25-20 Ravens win.
- NFL Picks Watch, which takes into account all of the expert pickers across the internet, has Baltimore getting 93-percent of the picks at the time this post was published.
It’s safe to say the Bengals are viewed as the big underdog in the eyes of most experts for this matchup. That ultimately means little, especially with Cincinnati having won five straight in the series, and it’s not like Baltimore has lit the world on fire this season.
Heck, three of the Ravens’ five wins are against the Browns and Jaguars. They aren’t really good, but they’re definitely better than Cincinnati right now, so they deserve to be getting most of the love in this matchup.
That’s how the Bengals like it.