Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens: Bold Predictions for Each Team

Jeremy SickelContributor IIISeptember 10, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 23: Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens looks for an open receiver against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won 48-17. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals travel to M&T Bank Stadium to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night in a game that will help in deciding who wins the AFC North division in 2012.

Both the Bengals and the Ravens finished in the top 10 last year in total defense and points against.

While both teams feature some dynamic players on the offensive side of the ball as well, Monday Night Football has the potential to kick off its season with a classic grind-it-out defensive struggle.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are looking to build off solid rookie campaigns while the Ravens will try to further cement themselves among the upper echelon of the AFC. Needless to say, Monday's clash will be a treat for the entire league.

The Pittsburgh Steelers' 31-19 loss to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Sunday night opens the door for either Cincinnati or Baltimore to take the lead in a division that typically comes down to the wire each and every season.

Here is one bold prediction for each team in Monday night's opener:


Bengals Defense Holds Ravens to Less than 300 Total Yards; Win Opener on Road

With Monday night's game expected to be played at a very slow pace, the Bengals should always be in striking distance throughout the entire contest.

While Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin have proven that they are capable of taking over games at times, the Ravens have shown that defense and taking care of the football is how they intend on winning ball games.

The season opener with the Bengals should be no different.

Cincinnati's defense is young but has proven capable of stopping a variety of offenses around the league.

Flacco and Co. finished about the middle of the pack last season in total offense and points scored.  The Bengals have a good shot at slowing them down just enough to steal one on the road to kick off the 2012 season.


Ravens Miss Terrell Suggs Tremendously and Record No Sacks on Andy Dalton

The Ravens tied for third in the NFL last season with 48 sacks. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had a great deal to do with the team's ability to get to the opposing quarterback with 14 of those sacks.

The Bengals will be breathing a sigh of relief on Monday night because Suggs won't be available at the start of the season after tearing his Achilles in the offseason.

Cincinnati only allowed 25 sacks all of last season anyway, so they look to build off the solid protection they afforded Andy Dalton in the pocket in 2011. The Ravens not being at full strength will make it easier for Dalton in Monday night's opener.

While this game looks to be a defensive struggle, look for Dalton to be more comfortable under center than he normally would against an aggressive Ravens defense.


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