Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:45 AM EST.
8:20 PM EST. What a difference a week can make, as the Ravens are getting a ton of respect from the market after being an undervalued home favorite to Buffalo in Week 1. When a team puts up nearly 50 points, as Baltimore did on Sunday, it resonates in the market. Week 2 is over-reaction week. It always has been and we can apply that here.
Truth be told, last week was mostly a benchmark for how bad the Bills are, not how great the Ravens offense became almost overnight and if you think that Joe Flacco had a big day, think again. Flacco passed for 236 yards and no receiver had more than 49 yards. While Flacco didn’t need to be great, playing on the road on a short week against a formidable defense is a much different animal. At running back, Alex Collins was limited to only seven runs for 13 yards. Collins was benched temporarily for losing a fumble and when the beat was on, they just rested him and mostly relied on Kenneth Dixon, who went off for 44 yards on 13 carries. Flacco went into Cincinnati last year and only threw for 121 yards. This is a shorter week and thus a more unfavorable spot. The 40-point win looks great on paper but Baltimore was given great field position all day, the Bills offense couldn’t move five yards and everything else went perfect.
The Bengals were a massive consensus pick last week. They were an underdog when the week began but moved to being the favorite when the books closed at 1:00 PM for kickoff. Cincinnati was also the #1 consensus pick in the Westgate Super-Contest so there were plenty of eyes and money on the Bengals. Well, for three quarters and a final drive, it looked like the Bengals were going down. They were trailing throughout and needed a fumble recovery on their own 15-yard line on the final drive to secure that very fortunate win. Although the Bengals won, that performance did not endear them to a fickle market and thus, the Bengals stock is way lower than Baltimore’s.
Andy Dalton threw for 243 yards and two scores in the season opener. That was on the road. Joe Mixon not only ran for 95 yards and a score on 17 carries, he added 54 more yards on five catches. A.J. Green is still one of the best in the business. The Bengals defense is full of top-tier players and both lines are decent too.
So for now, forget about last week and never put too much emphasis on one week or one performance. We like that the Bengals found a way to win while the Ravens never broke a sweat. It ain't about the Xs and the Os and it ain't about the Jimmies and the Joes either. It's about the collective intangibles, and how the whole thing comes together. And the real story with Baltimore is that the 2018 Ravens are not as good as they looked in Week 1. Not even close. We're not necessarily anxious to fade this crew every week, but we’re very comfortable in suggesting that what's really broken in Baltimore was not exposed in Week 1 but on a short week in Cincinnati, it will be. We’re still about value and in that regard, the Bengals are a bargain here.
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CINCINNATI -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)