Ravens-Bengals: Predictions Roundtable
Members of the Bleacher Report Baltimore Ravens Community break down Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals.
Isaac Barrow: The Ravens played their best game of the year when they beat the Eagles 36-7 last week. Joe Flacco had 183 yards and two touchdowns. The defense got four picks and a fumble a week after allowing 207 rushing yards to the Giants.
They are now 7-4, just one game behind the first-place Steelers (8-3) in a tough AFC North division. The Ravens now have to play the 1-9-1 Cincinnati Bengals.
I expect a blowout. The Bengals are one of the most embarrassing teams and are a huge disappointment.
In Week One, we beat Cincinnati by a close 17-10 score. The Ravens owned the game though. Flacco was 15-for-29 with 129 yards and ran for a 38-yard touchdown in his first regular-season game. Le'Ron McClain ran for 86 yards on 17 carries.
I expect an even bigger win. Flacco has matured into a passer to be reckoned with, and the team is so much better, it's kind of funny.
The defense is better and the offense is ten times better. I expect a huge win and the team to move to 8-4 and hopefully, the Steelers lose to New England.
The prediction: Ravens 27-7
Chad Lamasa: I find it hard to disagree with what Isaac said. We are coming off of a huge win against the Eagles, and anything less than a blowout against a sorry Bungles team will be a disappointment. We dominated the game the first time we played them.
Since then, the Ravens have done nothing but improve. The offense has grown by leaps and bounds. Did anyone expect Flacco to be in the running for Rookie of the Year? I certainly didn't. I thought he could be solid down the line, but this is a very pleasant surprise.
The Bengals have gone the complete opposite direction. Carson Palmer is banged up and won't play. And their backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick, should just retire now. He makes Kyle Boller look like John Elway.
Their running game is in shambles. Chad Ocho Cinco is under performing, and I've barely even heard T.J. Houshmandzadeh's name this season. Do they even have a defense?
I'm not huge on doing score predictions, but I'll go with 35-10. Maybe slightly worse if the defense gets a pick-six or fumble recovery.
The prediction: Ravens 35-10
Sean O'Brien: Coming off of an impressive performance on both sides of the ball against Philadelphia, Baltimore should enter this game with a ton of well-deserved confidence. The Ravens should be able to establish the run early and get a quick first-half lead.
After that, I can see the Bengals keeping it close going into halftime, somewhere around 10-7 or maybe 7-3 with Baltimore in the lead.
In the second half, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis will completely shut down both the run and the pass. A pick-six will widen the Baltimore lead as the offense slowly gains more momentum.
If the Ravens' defense can avoid a massive hangover, this game shouldn't be competitive come the second half.
The prediction: Ravens 32-10
Luke Jones: This is the type of game that players love but keeps the coaching staff up at night worrying about an emotional letdown. Fresh off a dominating 36-7 victory over Philadelphia, the Ravens should dominate the Bengals as the two teams are going in opposite directions.
The Ravens will need to avoid looking past Cincinnati and ahead to next week's game with the Washington Redskins on Sunday night.
Though the Bengals (1-9-1) are last in total offense, playmakers like Johnson and Houshmandzadeh can still hurt a secondary that played extremely well last week but is still battling injuries. Fitzpatrick can make plays with his arm if the defense cannot apply consistent pressure.
Look for the Ravens to take some early shots downfield and then settle into the running game. In the season opener, Baltimore rushed for 229 yards and dominated the time of possession by nearly 13 minutes in the 17-10 victory over Cincinnati.
The key to an easy victory will be jumping ahead early. The longer the Ravens leave the Bengals in the game, Cincinnati's confidence will grow, making it difficult to pull away. The Ravens need to crush the Bengals' spirit early, making them quit.
This is the kind of game that often plagued the Brian Billick-led Ravens. It's easy to look past this game and chalk it up as a victory, but John Harbaugh consistently preaches to his players to live in the moment and not think about what's down the road.
Trailing Pittsburgh by one game in the division, the Ravens know how important every game is down the stretch.
The Ravens have not swept the season series with the Bengals since 2002 and have not won in Cincinnati since 2004. Look for both of these streaks to end Sunday, as Flacco makes Bengals fans miss what they have in Carson Palmer.
The Ravens' exotic defensive looks will confuse Fitzpatrick, leading to a few turnovers to give Flacco and the offense a shorter field.
The prediction: Ravens 27-16
The Baltimore Ravens Community would like to hear your predictions for Sunday's game. Will the Ravens crush the hapless Bengals? Or will Cincinnati play spoiler to the Ravens' hopes for the AFC North crown? Leave your comments below.
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