The bet: Cincinnati Bengals -8 -120
Joe Burrow and the Bengals won their last eight games to close out the regular season (7-1 ATS). Cincinnati will lay 8.5 to the Ravens in Wild Card weekend action Sunday (Baltimore is 4-4 SU and 3-5 ATS in their most recent action). Notably, the Ravens' starting QB, Lamar Jackson, has missed the last five games with a knee injury, and has been ruled out of Sunday's competition. Further, Baltimore's backup quarterback, Tyler Huntley, is listed as questionable as a result of a shoulder injury. Thus, the Ravens might have to rely on third stringer, Anthony Brown, to lead the charge. Against this backdrop, we are siding with the Bengals for the home cover. A trigger from the same history-based system that gave us the Niners for the ATS win Saturday endorses a play on Cincinnati.
We indicated in our write-up for the Seahawks at the 49ers that the biggest mismatches of the post-season (i.e. games with the widest spreads) tend to play out in the Wild Card round. We suspect that favored teams, particularly bigger favorites, generally boast sufficient advantages in, both talent and mental acuity to collect wins and covers over more lowly opposition. Deeper in the post-season, poorer squads are eliminated and spreads tend to narrow to reflect greater balance between opposing teams so big spreads are less likely, as are covers by the biggest favorites.
In-line with the general tendency, we expect the Bengals to handle a hobbled Ravens team with relative ease Sunday afternoon, and are betting on the home cover.