Why Cincinnati Bengals should vanquish the Baltimore Ravens

AFC North Division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals play the Ravens at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium Sunday. Advantage Bengals.

(Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) throws a pass under pressure by San Diego Chargers strong safety Jimmy Wilson (27) during an NFL football game in Cincinnati, Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015.

Two division rivals – moving in opposite directions – clash in Week 3 of the NFL season as the Baltimore Ravens welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to M&T Bank Stadium. 

It has been a tale of two seasons for these AFC North Division rivals. In the preseason, both the Ravens and the Bengals were pegged as teams that could make a run into the playoffs. So far, the Bengals have looked the part, starting the season 2-0 with convincing wins against the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers. The Ravens, on the other hand, have been inconsistent and, as a result, have dropped their first two games. 

The Bengals have found success early this season on both sides of the ball. After two weeks, the team has accumulated the sixth most yards, primarily on the strength of the third ranked rush offense. Jeremy Hill emerged last season as the lead back and started this season strongly, finding the end zone twice in Week 1. In Week 2, Hill struggled and was replaced by Giovani Bernard, who had a tremendous game, rushing for 123 yards. The plan for the Bengals has been to use the two in tandem and so far the plan has been executed to perfection.

Fifth-year quarterback Andy Dalton is off to his best start ever, completing 68.3 percent of his passes, earning an overall QB Rating of 79.5, both of which will would be career highs if the season ended today (Sorry Bengals fans, it does not). This season, it has been helpful for Dalton to target star wideout A.J. Green less rather than more. Dalton has been criticized for honing in on Green too often and the numbers seem to back it up. In 13 games last year with Green on the field, Dalton threw the ball Green’s way 31.1 percent of the time. Through two games this season, Green has only seen 20 percent of Dalton’s throws.

Meanwhile, the Ravens enter Sunday's matchup desperately seeking more consistency on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore dropped the first game of the season, losing a tight contest in Denver in which the offense struggled but the defense was stellar. In Week 2, the offense picked it up considerably, scoring 33 points. The problem: The Raiders racked up 448 total yards on offense and scored 37 points, winning the game late.

In all, the Ravens rank towards the bottom of the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency after two weeks. Running back Justin Forsett has been bottled up so far after a tremendous season last year, managing only 111 total yards and 3.8 yard per carry. Quarterback Joe Flacco has also struggled, notching a QB Rating of 49.1 through two games and throwing 3 interceptions.

To make matters worse, Flacco has struggled throughout his career against the Bengals, losing his last three and throwing just two touchdowns to six interceptions. Raven’s coach Jim Harbaugh dismissed the notion that the Bengals have Flacco's number at this week’s press conference.

“[The Bengals] don’t do anything different than anybody else does,” Harbaugh said according to Pro Football Talk. “They have their own unique style. They have their way of playing. I think they’re very aggressive in terms of their mentality. They’re an attacking, 4-3-type defense. So, it’s not anything that people don’t try to do, but they do it well.”

The difference maker Sunday will likely be the Bengals defense, particularly their front line’s ability to get pressure on Flacco and force the sometimes elite, and sometimes not-so-much, quarterback into mistakes. Cincinnati's Geno Atkins will be a player to watch on that defensive front. The star defensive tackle has come into the season looking healthy and the line has tallied six sacks already through two games, two from Atkins.

When these two teams face off at 1:05 p.m. Eastern Time, expect the trends from the first two weeks to continue and the Bengals to emerge with a victory.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why Cincinnati Bengals should vanquish the Baltimore Ravens
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2015/0927/Why-Cincinnati-Bengals-should-vanquish-the-Baltimore-Ravens
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe