Baltimore at Cincinnati (-6.5)
CHFF Pick: Cincinnati 20, Baltimore 17
Final Score: Cincinnati 34, Baltimore 17
CHFF Result: Straight Up Win; ATS Loss
History is on the side of the Cincinnati Bengals. They finished 8-0 at home for the first time since the Super Bowl season of 1988. Third year quarterback Andy Dalton set the franchise record for touchdown passes and passing yards. A.J. Green set the record for most catches by a player in his first three seasons.
Heck, the Bengals were road favorites in Pittsburgh earlier this year for the first time since 1989.
And yet, it’s hard to believe in the Bengals when Dalton goes out and does that - that being four interceptions. He completed 21/36 passes for 281 yards, two touchdowns and the four interceptions.
The irresponsible turnovers are an indictment of Dalton’s gunslinging and Jay Gruden’s arena league play-calling.
Cincinnati was 14 for their previous 14 scoring touchdowns in the red zone before Dalton threw a fourth quarter pick inside the one yard line. If the Bengals want to go far playoffs, the interceptions and irresponsible playcalling will have to cease. It's overstating the obvious, but it's the truth.
The good news is that Cincinnati’s defense smothered Joe Flacco and the Ravens. Flacco completed a miserable 30/50 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. That's a 49.8 Passer Rating and a horrifying 3.3 Real Passing YPA.
Cincinnati also stuffed Ray Rice and the appearance of a run game; Rice carried six times for 15 yards while the Ravens as a team rushed just 14 times for 47 yards. That's 53 pass attempts and 14 runs.
So, with the Bengals, we've got a home playoff game for a team undefeated at home. It is a team loaded with talented playmakers on both sides of the ball with an offense that has a league-high six touchdown scoring drives of 90 yards or more.
We also have the Bengals coached by Marv Lewis, with an offense prone to turnovers and a franchise suffering the longest active playoff victory drought in the NFL.
Hop on the Cincinnati crazy train as it enters the postseason.
It's going to be filled with drama, highs and lows, peaks and valleys and lots of orange.