NFL Week 8 Preview & Odds: Ravens vs. Bengals

The Baltimore Ravens have won five of their last six games since dropping their season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Baltimore (5-2) will have an opportunity to avenge that loss on Sunday, as they visit the 3-2-1 Bengals (1:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS).

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Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (even, 46 o/u)

The Baltimore Ravens have won five of their last six games since dropping their season opener to the Cincinnati Bengals.  Baltimore (5-2) will have an opportunity to avenge that loss on Sunday, as they visit the 3-2-1 Bengals (1:00 p.m. Eastern on CBS).

It’s hard to pinpoint one factor that has made the difference for the Ravens.  In reality, it’s been a total team effort.  Statistically, the team’s defense has been dominant – Ray-Lewis-Years dominant – giving up just 14.9 points per game.

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s offense is much more explosive than in years past, which is largely due to the additions of Steve Smith at wide receiver and Justin Forsett at running back.  Smith leads the team in receptions (38) and receiving yards (640).  Forsett has already run for 503 yards on the season (fourth most in the league) and is averaging 5.8 yards per carry (almost a full yard more than the NFL’s leading rusher, DeMarco Murray).

That kind of production will go a long way in helping the Ravens topple their division foe on Sunday.

“It’s not the last game of the season.  It doesn’t have that kind of drama to it, but it is important,” head coach John Harbaugh said of this week’s game.  “You are in your division, you’re playing a team on the road, a team that’s beaten us once at home already.”

Cincinnati is hoping to have star receiver A.J. Green back from injury. But the latest news is not encouraging; Green has not practised all week and has been listed as “doubtful”, according to the Bengals’ official webpage.  The Bengals offense has struggled mightily in his absence, culminating in an embarrassing 27-0 loss against Indianapolis last week.

“We’ve got a lot of details to be better at, and to challenge ourselves to be better at, and we have to do it very quickly,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.

On the bright side for the Bengals, linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Leon Hall are both probable.

The odds on the game are currently even.  The over/under stands at 46.