If the Bengals were 0-3-1, Sunday's tilt in Baltimore would be one I dread. At 1-2-1, it's an opportunity to see how they measure up against a marquee squad that had their way with Cincinnati last season.
What great analytical insight by me.
NFL games of interest...
Cincinnati (+13.5) over Baltimore. It's off the board most places because of Lamar Jackson's absence from the Ravens' last two practices, but the line opened at 14, and as of Thursday afternoon it's at 12 at the books that are taking action.
Even before the Lamar knee news, I took the points. Couple things...
*The Bengals were smoked twice by the Ravens last season because their quarterback play was dreadful. I tortured myself and watched Andy Dalton in game one and Ryan Finley in game two. I don't recommend this. Joe Burrow right now is capable of playing better than either guy did against Baltimore last season. In fact, he could throw every pass with his left arm on Sunday and he'd give his team more of a chance than Finley did in his first NFL start.
*Interesting chess match involving a team that blitzes often against a quarterback who, in college, thrived under duress. I don't believe Burrow will thrown off his game by heavy Ravens pressure.
*This is a good read about the ways in which last year's clown show defense against Lamar Jackson provided the catalyst for the Bengals' defensive overhaul.
*Trends: Road underdogs are 540-474-33 over the last 1,047 divisional games featuring a home favorite. Road dogs have covered at a much higher ratio in the first matchup....Lamar Jackson as a home favorite ATS is 4-10, and as we've documented, Joe Burrow is unbeaten against the spread (3-0-1), and under Zac Taylor the Bengals are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games as road dogs.
I can't convince myself that the Bengals will win the game, but Burrow gives them a puncher's chance, and I absolutely have faith in him to keep it close, even if the Justin Tucker factor scares me just a little. I'm also not crazy about the fact that I'm seeing Jonah Williams on the injury report this week, but 13.5 is a pretty hefty number.
Carolina (+2.5) over Atlanta. I'll actually go Panthers ML +115 as well. The Falcons are a mess, Julio Jones' hamstring is a problem, Dan Quinn is a dead coach walking, and he's historically awful ATS as a favorite (18-33). Their defense is porous, and Teddy Bridgewater is playing well. I'll take the Panthers.
Seattle (-7) over Minnesota. This number should be double-digits. I'm glad it isn't.
Tampa Bay (-4) over Chicago. Wish Brady had more healthy guys to throw to, but I trust Tom on short rest more than I do Nick Foles.
Pittsburgh (-7) over Philly. The Eagles were fools' gold on Sunday night. The Steelers are rested, and unfortunately, pretty good.
Value moneyline parlay: Cincinnati/Jacksonville/Chargers. $1 wins you $81.39.
College tilts of interest....
I don't love this weekend's slate. We'll be short and sweet.
Houston (-6.5) over Tulane. Clayton Tune, baby.
Georgia (-12.5) over Tennessee
Boston College (+6) over Pitt
Auburn (-14) over Arkansas.
NFL in 2020: 11-7-1
College Football in 2020: 10-5-1
Have a pleasant weekend.