Week 2 sports betting action in the NFL kicks off on Thursday with the Bengals hosting the Ravens in an AFC North showdown. For this game and every other primetime contest, we’ll break down the betting lines and recommend where to place your bets.
Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick off, since things can change quickly in the NFL. Any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if they don’t respond well in warm-ups.
Week 2 Thursday Night Football Betting Pick
Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
DraftKings Line: Bengals -1
Over/Under Total: 44
Both of these teams revamped their offenses after down years. Cincinnati finished dead last in play volume and total YPG (280.4) last season and Baltimore ranked 27th in total YPG (305.4) and 31st in yards per play.
The Ravens did run an uptempo style under OC Marty Mornhinweg, ranking eighth in play volume. With a new and vastly improved receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead, Baltimore is actually equipped to run and gun.
Joe Flacco looked sharp and potentially motivated by the presence of first-round QB Lamar Jackson in Week 1, completing 25-of-34 passes for three touchdowns against the hapless Bills. With difference-making WLB Vontaze Burfict suspended, the Bengals aren’t well equipped to cover over the middle of the field, which allowed Andrew Luck to dink and dime against them all day.
Flacco should continue with a quick-hitting approach involving Brown, Snead and possibly third-down back Javorius Allen, as the Ravens exploit the Bengals shorthanded linebacking corps.
Cincinnati is still very strong on the defensive line with Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins leading that unit, so Alex Collins could struggle to find running room on early downs.
Even with a potentially limited rushing attack on the road, the Ravens are a good bet since their defense is superior to the Bengals offense. Doubling down with Baltimore and the Under would be an even bigger vote on the continued improved of the Ravens D.
Baltimore ranked second in DVOA pass defense and tied Cincinnati for the fourth-fewest yards allowed per attempt (6.5) last season. This game profiles as a classic AFC North “Black and Blue” game, but the reality may be that the Bengals offensive line can’t get enough push to free up second-year RB Joe Mixon.
The Bengals replaced departed offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth with ex-Bills tackle Cordy Glenn and drafted center Billy Price in the first round. That led to positive results against a horrendous Colts run defense, but should struggle against a Ravens team that ranked ninth in schedule-adjusted DVOA run defense last year.
Baltimore’s defensive numbers were a bit skewed by a tough schedule, but this remains a very talented unit with rising star C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs terrorizing opposing quarterbacks while ball-hawking safety Eric Weddle leads the secondary.
A.J. Green has strangely poor home/road splits, although his matchup is improved by the absence of CB Jimmy Smith (suspension). Veteran CB Brandon Carr should be serviceable in the absence of Smith and a relentless pass rush could make it tough for Andy Dalton to find Green or burner John Ross down the field.
Dalton turned in an uninspiring performance against the horrendous Colts secondary and can’t be trusted in this divisional game. Combine the Bengals inconsistent passing attack with a rushing attack that ranked 29th in YPC (3.4) and it’s easy to bet on the Ravens talented defense holding the Bengals below their expected total. And with that, a heavy lean to Under the game total. Over 73% of the money is backing the Ravens +1.