This Sunday, the Bengals have a big game at home against the Baltimore Ravens. It would be easy to predict a Ravens victory in this game. They just won a physical game against the Jets. Quarterback Joe Flacco has some new weapons to throw to in Anquan Boldin and T. J. Houshmandzadeh. They have one of the most dynamic running backs in the league in Ray Rice. The Ravens' defense is led by future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.
Forget all of that. Here is why the Bengals will win.
Last week, Flacco had trouble hitting his targets. He was over-throwing his receivers all night. The Jets' defense may have caused a lot of this but Flacco was not sharp. In fact, he seemed to do better when the Jets put the pressure on.
He ended up with:
52.6% completion percentage
With the Jets committing dumb penalties and the refs making questionable calls, Flacco and the Ravens were fortunate against the Jets.
If Flacco plays like that again, the Bengals defense will have a good day.
The Ravens' offense is built to dink and dunk its way down the field. Ray Rice will get between 15 and 20 carries and a handful of short passes. The receivers play physical. They push their way into position to get open and try to get defensive penalties. This style requires the Ravens to execute 10 to 12 plays per drive to score. A lot can go wrong when you have to run that many plays.
A more focused and aggressive effort by the Bengals may bend but won't break against the Ravens.
Ray Lewis chases down the ball carrier
The Jets never really tested the Ravens' suspect secondary. That may be because Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez is not very good (yet).
Bengals' quarterback Carson Palmer is very good and has had success against tougher Ravens' defenses than this. Palmer's career quarterback rating is 87.6 against the Ravens.
Unlike Sanchez, Palmer will test the Ravens' secondary and put up a big day with a heavy dose of Cedric Benson to follow.
There are many in Bengal nation who claim that Carson Palmer's stats against the Patriots are inflated because they were accomplished against a prevent defense.
However, a closer look shows that the Patriots did not use a prevent defense until the closing minutes. In fact, it is not even part of the Patriots' philosophy to let up off the gas pedal just because they have a 28-point lead. After all, they were taking shots at the endzone at the end of the game when the game was decided.
This success will boost the confidence for the Bengals' offense. They have now shown that for two quarters, they were able to move the ball against a good defense. This confidence will show against the Ravens.
The Bengals realize the importance of this game. An 0-2 start will make the Bengals' playoff hopes tough to realize. Only 11 percent of NFL teams that began their season with two losses have made the playoffs in the past 11 years. To make it worse, a loss to the Ravens will put them two games back in the division.
The Bengals will be ready, willing, and able to take this game.