Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens: 5 Reasons the Bengals Will Lose
Both teams have 6-3 records and whichever team wins will jump into a first place tie in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7-3.
The two teams have played each other 30 times in their histories and the Ravens own a slight 16-14 series edge. The Bengals have even won three of the last four contests with Baltimore.
Prior to the season, Bengals fans looked at the schedule and knew that this stretch of games against Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh again and Houston were going to ultimately determine their success or failure in 2011.
The Bengals lost the first game to the Steelers and things aren't shaping up well for them against the Ravens this week.
Let's look at five reasons why the Bengals are very likely to lose on Sunday.
1. No Adriel Jeremiah Green (Probably)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
A.J. Green didn't practice Friday and it appears the injury he suffered in the first half of the Steelers game is going to prevent him from playing against Baltimore as well.
This is a worst-case scenario for the Bengals. Green has been the difference-maker for this team and has consistently bailed Andy Dalton from his poor accuracy and decision-making.
Green has been the ultimate equalizer and his absence means that Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell will have to step up in a major way for the Bengals to be competitive on Sunday.
No Leon Hall (Definitely)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images
As bad as Green's injury is for the offense, Hall's is even worse for the defense.
Leon Hall will miss the remainder of the season after suffering an Achilles injury against Pittsburgh last week.
Hall has been one of the best corner backs in football over the course of his career and has helped to dictate the Bengals defensive schemes.
He's always been able to handle the other team's best wide receiver one-on-one and that enabled the defense to send double-team help on the other side of the ball.
Without that ability, expect the Ravens to try to exploit the Bengals weak secondary by going to the air early and often.
3. The Ravens Are 4-0 at Home
Larry French/Getty Images
M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore is a difficult place to play and the Ravens are currently undefeated at home.
The silver lining for Bengals fans is that Cincinnati is currently 4-1 on the road.
4. Andy Dalton vs. Ed Reed
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
I've written extensively about my love/hate relationship with Andy Dalton.
As a Bengals fan, I'm very excited for the future and I think Dalton has flashed the potential to be a great quarterback.
Unfortunately, he's not a great quarterback right now and the veteran Baltimore Ravens secondary is about to exploit that in a big way.
If Dalton is going to be successful today then he needs to target his tight ends and running backs consistently. Gresham will be the most talented offensive player on the field and Dalton needs to ensure his athletic tight end gets a minimum of 10 targets.
Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard should also be used often on screen passes. The worst thing the Bengals can do is try to force the ball down field to Simpson and Caldwell.
If they try to do that it's going to be a very long day.
5. The Running Game Has Been Terrible Lately
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The Ravens defense is notorious for their ability to hold running backs under 100 yards rushing so I expect Benson to struggle again today.
The inability to run the ball will just make things more difficult for Dalton because the Ravens will be able to drop more linebackers into coverage instead of worrying about the rush.