Williams: Prediction for Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football

The Cincinnati Bearcats host the USF Bulls for their homecoming game on Saturday and are 27.5-point favorites, while the Cincinnati Bengals travel to face the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football and are 3-point underdogs, according to Tipico Sportsbook.

Here are my predictions for the games:

NFL prediction: Cincinnati Bengals (2-2) at Baltimore Ravens (2-2)

Both teams have underachieved so far.

The Ravens are a hard to team to figure out. They’re 0-2 at home, having blown double-digit halftime leads against Miami and Buffalo. Baltimore’s offense was comatose in the second half in both games, including being held scoreless in last week’s 23-20 loss to the Bills.

But this is for first place in the AFC North. It's on Sunday Night Football. M&T Bank Stadium might be the wildest primetime atmosphere in the NFL.

It’s not an ideal setting for the Bengals offense, which is getting better but still has issues. Crowd noise could be a factor for an offense that continues to have long stretches of ineptitude in games. The Ravens defense leads the NFL with 10 takeaways. A turnover in that environment could be detrimental for the Bengals, who've been terrible at running the ball.

Bengals RB Joe Mixon is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry, despite ranking second in the league in attempts. The Ravens allow 5 yards per carry, but Mixon has shown few signs of being able to break big runs since a 31-yard gain in the season-opening loss to Pittsburgh.

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It feels like a toss-up game. Home-field advantage could be the difference. Baltimore is 18-2 in home primetime games since John Harbaugh took over as head coach in 2008.

Prediction: Bengals lose, 24-23

Last week: Cincinnati defeated Miami, 27-15, on Sept. 29. I predicted the Bengals would win, 21-17.

My season record: 3-1

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) celebrates a touchdown carry in the first quarter of the NFL Week 4 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins at PayCor Stadium in downtown on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. The Bengals 14-12 at halftime.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) celebrates a touchdown carry in the first quarter of the NFL Week 4 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Miami Dolphins at PayCor Stadium in downtown on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. The Bengals 14-12 at halftime.

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College football prediction: No. 24 Cincinnati Bearcats (4-1) vs. South Florida (1-4)

The team after The Team is showing that it’s pretty dang good, too. It’s early in American Athletic Conference play, but the Bearcats have quietly put themselves in the driver’s seat to make another New Year’s Six bowl.

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UC coach Luke Fickell talks a lot about the team continuing to grow. Saturday’s game is another growth opportunity, particularly for the offense. The Bearcats need to avoid the second-half offensive letdown.

In wins the last two weeks against Indiana and Tulsa, UC has built double-digit halftime leads and then shifted the offense into cruise control in the second half. The Bearcats only scored seven points in the second half in both games.

They can’t keep doing that. The schedule gets tougher after Saturday’s game with huge, back-to-back road games against SMU and UCF.

South Florida hasn’t beaten an FBS team in almost a year. The Bulls rank last in the AAC in scoring defense. It’s the perfect game for UC’s offense to get everything right and not let up in the second half.

Prediction: Bearcats win, 52-14

Last week: UC defeated Tulsa, 31-21. I predicted UC would win, 35-28.

My season record: 4-0 (predictions column didn’t start until after UC’s season-opener at Arkansas).

Contact sports columnist Jason Williams by email at jwilliams@enquirer.com and on Twitter @jwilliamscincy.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Sunday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore prediction