The NFL returns to the Queen City when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Baltimore Ravens on the first Sunday of the 2017 season.
The Bengals are looking to rebound from their first non-playoff season in five years, which ended in a forgettable 6-9-1 2016 season. The Ravens are in a similar boat, as they look to bounce back from back-to-back seasons of missing the playoffs. That came after they made the postseason six times in a seven-season stretch from 2008-2014.
A big reason why Baltimore failed to make the playoffs in three of the past four years was Cincinnati going 6-2 versus Baltimore from 2013-16. The Bengals will need to keep up that dominance of their division rival if a playoff berth is to come in 2017.
A loss at home to kick off the new season would be devastating to Cincinnati, especially against a Baltimore team closer to rebuilding mode than being a postseason contender.
Most of the oddsmakers view Cincinnati as a slight favorite heading into Week 1. The line for this game has been as a low as one point and as big as one field goal.
As of Saturday morning, the Bengals come into this game as a three-point favorite, according to OddsShark. The Bengals were actually an underdog when the two teams squared off in Week 17 last season, but that didn’t stop them from scoring a 27-10 win.
The Bengals have won six of the last seven matchups against the Ravens and five straight meetings at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati has also won three consecutive season openers, while Baltimore has lost three of four.
Here are some of the recent betting trends for both teams:
- Cincinnati is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games
- Cincinnati is 6-10-2 against the spread in its last 18 games
- Cincinnati is 3-5-1 straight up in its last 9 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Cincinnati's last 8 games
- Cincinnati is 5-2 against the spread in its last 7 games when playing Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 6-1 straight up in its last 7 games when playing Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games when playing at home against Baltimore
- Cincinnati is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games when playing at home against Baltimore
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Baltimore's last 5 games
- Baltimore is 1-6 against the spread in its last 7 games on the road
- Baltimore is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games on the road
- Over at CBS Sports, seven of their eight experts went with the Bengals.
- At ESPN, eight of their nine experts think the Bengals will win it.
- At SB Nation, it's a similar spread with all of their nine experts picking Cincinnati.
- Fox Sports projects a 23-21 Bengals win.
- NFL Picks Watch, which takes into account all of the expert pickers across the internet, has Cincinnati getting 79-percent of the picks at the time this post was published.
It’s safe to say the Bengals are viewed as the favorite in the eyes of most experts for this matchup. Recent history dictates just as much, especially since Baltimore hasn’t won at Cincinnati since 2011, the rookie seasons of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. Those two have terrorized the Ravens ever since, and we can expect the same this Sunday in Paul Brown Stadium.