Week 2 of the NFL season begins on Thursday night with a divisional clash between two sides who won their opening match of the campaign, when the Baltimore Ravens head to AFC North rivals Cincinnati Bengals.
Both teams got confidence boosting victories last week but I think it is fair to say both had soft opening fixtures and it could well be that their first big test comes against each other here. Whoever wins this will take an early stranglehold on the division.
There was a lot of doom and gloom around the Cincinnati Bengals heading into the season and while I accept all of that, and to a large extent agree with it in terms of their overall likely outcome this term, it would be foolish to ignore that there were positive elements to their victory last week. Andy Dalton looked more confident and their offense showed purpose as a result.
Their defence showed some good signs too with an interception and a fumble recovery plus two sacks, albeit against an Andrew Luck who might have been easing his way back into the NFL. Running back Joe Mixon had a standout game and a number of receivers made plays so for an opening game on the road Cincinnati should be pleased.
We will probably only find out how good the Baltimore Ravens are going to be this season when they compete in this match. I say that because their opening game against the Buffalo Bills looked like a mismatch going into it and with the issues the Bills are having at quarterback it probably played out worse than any Bills fan expected.
What we did see from the Baltimore Ravens was their pass defence remains strong. They will always get to a quarterback and go hunting big plays but what we needed to see was a performance from Joe Flacco. He has Lamar Jackson breathing down his neck but to be fair, the Super Bowl winning QB seemed to enjoy finally having some players to make plays in the passing game.
Regular readers will know I’m rarely too keen on getting heavily involved in these Thursday night games because the short turnaround is a real disadvantage and inconvenience for the away side and that remains the case here. There is one bet which catches the eye though.
Joe Mixon had a wonderful game running the ball last week, rushing for 95 yards and he now goes up against a Baltimore defence with a good reputation but which does all of its best work in the passing game in terms of their safeties and rushing the quarterback. It has been a while since the Ravens have had a good defence against the run and I saw nothing last week to suggest that has changed. I think Mixon can rush for more than 65.5 yards.
WON – Back J.Mixon – Over 65.5 rushing yards for a 4/10 stake at 1.83 with TLCBet