Hello NFL fans!!
This is Professor MJ and I’m super stoked about the start of a new football season! Let’s get down to business right away with my pick of the week:
Cincinnati Bengals -3 (+103 Pinnacle) vs Baltimore Ravens
Whenever the home team is favored by 3 points in the NFL, it implies both teams are evenly matched. I would argue that the Bengals have the superior team, especially on week #1 with the current status of many players.
Joe Flacco just recently started taking snaps following a back injury that has been bothering him since last June. Granted, he is a veteran player so he doesn’t need as much time to get ready for the upcoming season, but I’m still worried that he may not be completely ready for game speed.
After leading the team with 5 receiving touchdowns, Steve Smith Sr retired. The Ravens did acquire Jeremy Maclin who had a great year in 2015, but had a very disappointing 2016 season which prompted the Chiefs to release him. Breshad Perriman has not shown that much so far in his career and seems to be injury-prone (he has missed the last month with a hamstring injury so he will probably play limited snaps). Baltimore’s tight ends are either not so good, or injured. In other words, Mike Wallace will have to step up his game because he may not get much help from other receivers.
The situation in the backfield does not look very promising either for the Ravens. Kenneth Dixon is out for the year. Terrance West is the starter, but has struggled quite a bit during the preseason (backup Javorious Allen has actually looked better, but he hasn’t earned the starting job). Danny Woodhead is a reliable guy, but unfortunately a hamstring injury is slowing him down. He’s more of a pass catcher anyway, and missed all but two games last year so you cannot rely on him to do the heavy lifting in the running game.
What about the Bengals’ offense? Unlike Flacco, it’s clear that Andy Dalton is ready to rock on the first week of the regular season. I also like their WR situation better with A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell. As far as tight ends are concerned, Tyler Eifert is much more dangerous than any of Baltimore’s TEs, plus he is healthy! Cincinnati’s backfield is LOADED with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, not to mention the rookie coming out of Oklahoma Joe Mixon, who has shown a good mix of balance and explosion during preseason games. I must admit, though, that I am concerned about Cincinnati’s offensive line after they let Whitworth and Zeitler go in free agency.
Baltimore’s defense is better than Cincinnati’s, but the gap between the two doesn’t seem nearly as big as the one I see regarding both teams’ offenses (as far as week #1 is concerned anyway). Please note that Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the Bengals’ first three games. The Ravens have acquired 25-year old safety Tony Jefferson from the Cardinals, as well as corner back Brandon Carr from Dallas.
The Bengals are 14-7 at home against the Ravens.
Enjoy week #1 everyone and good luck on your plays!