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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens Point Spread - Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (6-9 SU, 8-7 ATS) vs. Baltimore Ravens (9-6 SU, 8-6-1 ATS)
Week 17 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday. December 31, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: MT&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CIN +10/BAL -10
Over/Under Total: 40

The Cincinnati Bengals take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in a key week 17 AFC North matchup from MT&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore controls its own legacy after beating the Colts on Saturday, 23-17, for their 5th win on 6 games. Standing in their way is potential spoiler Cincinnati. On Sunday, the Bengals spoiled the postseason for another team with a 26-17 win over the Lions. Can they do the same thing this week? In week one, the Ravens dominated the Bengals, 20-0, and they look for a similar result this week.

For the Ravens, they are in the best spot of teams looking for an AFC wild card spot. They can get in with a win over the Bengals this week. And even if they lose, there is still a wild card spot available if the Bills or Titans also lose. They certainly look as good as any team in the running. The defense has been tough all season—a stout and playmaking "D" that can make a lot happen. In addition, the offense has been a lot better. Joe Flacco has saved his best football for December. They have strong special teams and are starting to look like a more-complete team. They have peaked at the right time.

Again, Flacco has saved his best play for December, giving the Ravens a big boost as they make their postseason push. He has had multiple touchdowns in three of his last four games, with only one pick in the last five games. They have developed a nice one-two punch coming out of the backfield with Alex Collins becoming a valuable asset at running back, along with Javorius Allen chipping in. WR Mike Wallace has been dangerous as of late. Danny Woodhead has gotten involved as of late, with TE Benjamin Watson still an effective contributor.

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What really makes the Ravens an interesting contender and perhaps the biggest X-factor of all AFC teams vying for the postseason is their defense. The pass-rush has come along with LB Matthew Judon getting involved, along with Terrell Suggs making a big comeback this season with 11 sacks. CJ Mosley has been a big sideline-to-sideline presence in the middle. The secondary is stout, while making a lot of plays. They are a big part of the plus-17 the Ravens have in turnover-ratio this season. They have scored six times this season and are probably more-adept at making things happen than any defense in the conference. It would really be surprising if the Ravens' defense didn't perform this week. This was one of the three teams the Ravens have blanked this season and they should be shot out of cannon as they control their own destiny this week.

It was strange to see Cincy jump up last week and put a loss on Detroit. It looked like the Bengals had started to pack it in after two straight lopsided losses leading into that game. And that was their first win over a decent team since a week five win over Buffalo. It's been a hard road for the Bengals. Injuries have certainly contributed, as a ton of useful pieces are on IR. But some departures over the last few seasons and other factors have just made the Cincinnati formula for success moot.

On Sunday, we saw the Cincinnati offense doing some nice things, like running the ball. Injuries have hurt the run-game this season, with Giovani Bernard getting more carries and he had a big game Sunday with 116 yards and a TD on the ground, along with 7 catches. Andy Dalton was able to connect well with AJ Green, who had 81 yards, as he again went over the 1000-yard mark on the season. It hasn't been a good season on this side of the ball, as they enter week 17 the last-ranked offense in the league in terms of yardage. But they also haven't given up and if the defense cooperates, they could do it again this week. They might find Baltimore less-cooperative than the Lions were last week, however.

The Cincinnati defense had been looking rough around the edges heading into last week's game. They entered that matchup on the heels of giving up 33 to Chicago and 34 to Minnesota, so Sunday was a good showing. Unlike most weeks this season, they at least gave the offense some room to work. They got pass-rushers Carlos Dunlap and Carl Lawson involved, as both registered sacks on Matthew Stafford. LB Vincent Rey had a pick. With Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson, along with Dunlap, Lawson, and others, we see a D-line that can still control games. The line hasn't been that great against the run, while the secondary has held up well despite injuries. They still have a minus-9 in turnover ratio and are not the same defense we saw when they were making the postseason year after year. But on a given day, they can still give anyone problems.

A lot has changed since Baltimore beat the Bengals 20-0 in week one. The Ravens have shown some lapses along the way that make them less-than-bankable. And the Bengals look to have embraced the spoiler role and would love to wield that against their division rivals this week. And though everything seems to favor the Ravens, it's seldom as easy as that. I see this being a little tougher than some are forecasting. I'll take the points.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cincinnati Bengals plus 10 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Cincinnati vs. Baltimore game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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