On one hand, you have Joe Burrow, who has been flying high in recent weeks, throwing for multiple scores in five consecutive games while the team has won four of its last five. On the other side, the Ravens continue to falter late in games and are second worst in points allowed in the fourth quarter in the last three games ahead of only Washington. Rather than looking at the full game, there’s one angle you can attack: Ravens to win the first quarter.
2023 Ravens trend
Baltimore is 8-0-2 ATS in the first quarter this season. Lamar Jackson and Co. have outscored opponents 79-16 to start games, giving up a single touchdown to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 8. That trend can continue this week.
Lamar Jackson against Bengals defense
At first glance, Jackson appears to be in a mini slump, throwing for 223 yards or fewer in three straight, with only two touchdowns and two interceptions. Jackson has also faced two top-10 passing defenses in the Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks. Cincinnati is 31st in opponent yards per completion and 30th in opponent yards per pass attempt. Now, Jackson will not only get an easier secondary, but a Bengals defense that is without DE Sam Hubbard, who's second on the team in sacks. When the Bengals are unable to apply pressure, they are giving up chunk plays. If you give Jackson room, he can take off, as he leads all quarterbacks in explosive runs.
Joe Burrow against the Ravens
Historically, Burrow has not fared well against the Ravens in Baltimore. Since entering the league in 2020, Burrow is 1-2 in Baltimore with four touchdowns and three interceptions while averaging six yards per pass attempt in two of those matchups. The Bengals offense is still without wide receiver Tee Higgins. Cincinnati has consistently showed it's a second-half team with Burrow at QB; it's 37-20-1 ATS (67%) in the second half of games in his career, which is the best second-half mark in the NFL during that span.
Down a key part on defense and missing an additional receiving weapon, I expect the Ravens' first-quarter dominance to continue.