The first step toward a 2016 turnaround will be against a division rival that Cincinnati has beaten 5 straight times. Baltimore is a brick wall on defense (2nd in the NFL) but struggles on offense (24th in the league). The Cincinnati Bengals will probably do likewise on O after losing wide receiver AJ Green and running back Giovani Bernard to injuries last week.
So what are the 3 things to keep an eye on in this AFC North matchup?
3 Things to Watch in the Cincinnati Bengals-Baltimore Ravens Game
1. Who steps in for AJ Green and Giovani Bernard? Green’s hamstring injury means Brandon LaFell will be the leading receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals (419 yards, 4 touchdowns) at kickoff. Hopefully, WRs Tyler Boyd and Cody Core can be productive against a Ravens’ defense that’s yielded 219 passing yards per game. The outlook doesn’t look much better behind QB Andy Dalton. Running back Cedric Peerman was just activated from IR after a preseason arm injury and Rex Burkhead has only gained 39 yards this year.
2. Will Steve Smith move past Harrison? Ravens’ receiver Steve Smith is only 133 yards away from passing the great Marvin Harrison for 7th on the all-time career yardage list. If he makes it, that probably means Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is having a great day all around. After all, it’s not like Smith will get 150 and Mike Wallace will get 15.
3. Can we keep the mental advantage? The Ravens haven’t beaten the Cincinnati Bengals since a 20-17 overtime win on November 10, 2013. Even with Cincy’s recent struggles, you gotta think they’re in the heads of the guys wearing purple. Like Cincinnati, Baltimore has only beaten one team with a winning record this year (Pittsburgh) and they’re averaging less than 20 points a game. That puts a lot of pressure on the Ravens’ defense. They don’t want that. We do.