The Bengals(5-2) have been playing good football this year, but showed their weaknesses against the Browns in Week 4. They have had a strong and efficient air attack with Carson Palmer back under center, and continue to commit to the run with ex-bear RB Cedric Benson. The Ravens will not have problems gaining yardage against the Bengals. Ray Rice should get more carries this game, as the Ravens will try and control the ball, and force the Bengals to throw into a few 3 and outs.
It's proving time for the Bengals. And maybe the Ravens, too.
Cincinnati sits atop the AFC North along with Pittsburgh at 5-2, and the Bengals have beaten the Steelers and Ravens. Next week, they visit the Steel City.
So this is make or break time for a team usually too fragile to handle such pressure.
Sweep both games and it would take a monumental collapse for Cincinnati to not make the playoffs, no matter who else is on the schedule.
To win the game, the Ravens will have to stop the Bengals pass attack. Marvin Lewis will likely see game tape of the Ravens run defense and choose to go to a pass happy offense. The Ravens will have to prove that they can stop the pass.
If the Ravens hope to advance to 5-3, they need to set the tone early by putting pressure on Carson Palmer.
The Bengals will try to do 4 things.
The short version:
1. Go deep, especially early, to force the Ravens to pass.
2. Pressure Flacco to prevent him from the long plays.
3. Open up the long ball & playaction with Cedric Benson runs.
4. Stop the screens.
Baltimore's d-coordinator (Gregg Mattison) finally learned what a blitz of more than four players really is and they pushed around a great Denver o-line all game long. The sacks weren't there (only 2) but if you watched the game the pressure clearly was. If they can hold off on the pressure then Palmer can pick apart the secondary with relative ease. I know some will be expecting another big day out of Benson, and although possible, I doubt it. But if Palmer comes out throwing well in the first half, Benson will get his yards in the second. Runs to the outside will also benefit him more than runs to the middle in this game since our CBs are not great tacklers. We need to make Palmer force throws.
We need to keep this game behind us, not ahead.
Baltimore got back to winning by handing Denver its first loss. The Ravens were awfully sloppy in their three-game slide, but were close at the end of all three defeats.
They also are carrying a grudge after falling at home to Cincy four weeks ago.
The Bengals are three game Point favorites.
My Prediciton? Ravens prove they are for real.