Wild Card Showdown: Ravens vs Bengals

by Aditya Fuldeore · Betting & Props

Wild Card Weekend is finally here, and the Sunday night matchup is an AFC North rivalry game. Facing off for the third time this season, it’s the Baltimore Ravens at the Cincinnati Bengals. The big injury for this game is Lamar Jackson. Backup Tyler Huntley is 2-2 starting for Jackson this season, while No. 3 QB Anthony Brown lost his sole start to Cincinnati last week. On the other side, the Bengals look to start the path to defending their title as reigning AFC champions. Let’s dig into this Sunday Night Wild Card showdown!

Ravens vs Bengals Odds:

Spread: Bengals -8.5

Over/Under: 40.5

 Moneyline: Ravens +360/Bengals -460

Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore is limping into the playoffs behind a stagnant offense and a QB situation in flux. With Lamar Jackson out again, Tyler Huntley is slated to be the starter, with Anthony Brown ready in case Huntley (shoulder) can’t go either. In five games without Jackson starting, the Ravens are averaging 13 points per game.

Expect J.K. Dobbins to be utilized heavily. Baltimore averages 30.8 (No. 7) run plays per game this season. In last week’s season finale against the Bengals, the Ravens averaged just over four yards per carry and utilized tight ends heavily over the middle. Defensively, Baltimore has improved since adding the newly extended Roquan Smith, allowing 200.3 (No. 12) passing yards per game in its last three games, an improvement from the season-long 250.1 passing yards per game allowed. The Ravens’ keys to the game are to run the ball effectively, suffocate the Bengals’ passing offense, and hit easy short throws to Mark Andrews and company when needed.

Key Production (QB/RB/WR/TE)

Assuming Huntley is the starter, you can expect some rushing output from him, along with short yardage looks to Ravens receivers. Huntley averaged a shallow 5.9 yards per attempt this season with 7.2 carries per game. He’ll be throwing to Mark Andrews and Demarcus Robinson, amongst others. Andrews had 10 targets in an early-season matchup against the Bengals and averages just under seven targets per game with Huntley starting. The Bengals are middle-of-the-pack against TEs, so Andrews is the only Ravens pass-catcher I feel confident about inserting into DFS lineups this week. On the other hand, Robinson is a volume-based play this week. He saw nine targets in the season finale and seen the most targets out of Ravens WRs since Jackson’s injury. Robinson is a decent upside play for the weekend.

In Baltimore’s backfield, J.K. Dobbins is slated to lead the way. Dobbins has 400 total yards in four weeks after returning from injury. In games with Gus Edwards, Dobbins has still led in touches, so expect Dobbins to be the definitive lead back. In a game where Baltimore’s goals will be to control the clock and keep Joe Burrow off the field, Dobbins will be a key play for DFS lineups. If Brown starts, Andrews and Robinson’s forecasts stay the same, while the Ravens RBs get a boost as Brown does not run like his Raven QB counterparts, leaving more rushing opportunities for Dobbins and Edwards.

Cincinnati Bengals

In contrast to the Ravens, the Bengals are coming into the playoffs hot, riding an eight-game winning streak to close out the season. Joe Burrow is everyone’s favorite young QB, throwing for 36 (No. 2) touchdowns and an 8.3 (No. 1) Accuracy Rating this season.

Even in a game where the Bengals expect to be up, Burrow will be passing the ball heavily. Cincy averages 35.9 (No. 7) pass plays per game, despite a +2.41 (No. 5) Game Script on the season. A receiving corps led by Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins will continue to eat. On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals allowed 4.2 yards per carry this season, ranking in the top-third of the league in limiting rushing offenses. Cincinnati’s keys to the game include stopping J.K. Dobbins and Baltimore’s backs while letting Burrow do his thing in tossing the ball to Chase and Higgins.

Key Production (QB/RB/WR/TE)

Burrow finished the season averaging 21.7 (No. 4) Fantasy Points Per Game with 7.4 (No. 10) yards per attempt. Without much thought, he is a plug-and-play into DFS lineups as you desire. Chase and Higgins can both be used in a stack with Burrow. Chase saw double-digit targets in all but three games this season, with a 100-percent (No. 1) Route Participation and 29.3-percent (No. 6) Target Share. Higgins saw an 18.6-percent (No. 41) Target Share as he battled injuries this season. Tyler Boyd has seen 11 targets in two games against Baltimore this season and should see ample usage from the slot. Obviously, Chase is the best WR play here, but Boyd is a cheaper sleeper pick to pair with Burrow.

Hayden Hurst is a good TE play from the weekend as well. He has 12 targets in two games against Baltimore this season and is a better pick for DFS lineups than guys like Gerald Everett and Dawson Knox. For the Bengals’ rushing attack, Joe Mixon leads the way, averaging 3.7 (No. 61) True Yards Per Carry this season. Facing a Ravens’ front seven with Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen, and a healthy Calais Campbell, Mixon is more of an iffy play this week. He has 33 touches for 156 yards against Baltimore this season and will rely on a touchdown to hit this week. Dobbins is a better play than Mixon for this game.

Favorite Player Prop

Hayden Hurst O 3.5 Receptions

In the Bengals’ pass-happy offense this season, Hayden Hurst has 14.6-percent (No. 16) Target Share. He received a 7.9 (No. 7) Target Accuracy and finished with a 98.2-percent (No. 5) Catch Rate. Hurst was used heavily against Baltimore this season, with 10 total receptions and a touchdown against the Ravens. In a heavy passing offense with an accurate QB, expect ample usage from Hurst again and hit the over on his receptions prop.

Score Prediction

Bengals 26, Ravens 17

This is going to be a battle between the Cincinnati offense and the Baltimore defense. It might be closer than many think, but Greg Roman’s stagnant Baltimore offense without Lamar will be the downfall here.