Get your popcorn ready, your Cincinnati Bengals (1-0) are back home to host the Baltimore Ravens (1-0) in what’s sure to be a knock-down, drag-out AFC North skirmish. Thursday night is going to be rocking at Paul Brown Stadium.
These two teams know each other well. Since the Ravens entered the league, the all-time series is split in half with each team winning 22 games. The Bengals have won 14 games against the Ravens in Cincinnati. Baltimore’s shutout victory, to open last season at PBS, snapped a five-game win streak at home for Cincinnati in the series. Marvin Lewis is 11-8 against John Harbaugh. The Bengals have been outscored by the Ravens in their series 814-942.
Andy Dalton has had an up-and-down career against Baltimore. He’s thrown 15 touchdowns compared to 17 interceptions with a 74.1 passer rating. His career completion percentage of 57% against the Ravens is 5% lower than his overall career mark of 62%. He’s been sacked 28 times by Baltimore, in his career, more on that in a bit.
On the playmakers’ side, Joe Mixon saw four-plus yards per carry in his two games, last year, and will look to score his first career TD against Baltimore, in Thursday’s game. A man who needs no introduction, A. J. Green leads all Bengals skill-players with six scores against the Ravens. Always Andy’s favorite target, A. J. averages just over 80 yards a game, in this division rivalry.
The Bengals have allowed the Ravens right at three touchdowns, per game, for their series. Cincinnati has never shut Baltimore out, despite the Ravens doing it for the fourth time to the Bengals last season.
Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, and Michael Johnson have combined for 23 sacks of Joe Flacco, in their career, with Dunlap leading the way at nine. The rest of the front seven is pretty green against the Purple and Black.
The secondary is also pretty green, other than Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard, who both have pick-sixes against Flacco. William Jackson III is still looking for his first interception against Baltimore.
Two big question marks loom for the Bengals in this game: how much will the right side of the offensive line give to Terrell Suggs and the Ravens pass rush and what will Lamar Jackson do?
First question: Bobby Hart, and whoever else comes in to play right tackle, will get a steady diet of Suggs. Despite being up there in years, “Sizzle” will be a headache for Bill Lazor and the Bengals pass protection. I don’t see him lining up on Cordy Glenn, too much, as Baltimore will attempt to exploit the matchups. Expect Lazor to line Tyler Kroft on the right side to help double-team Suggs, when the offense is not in the red zone.
Second question: Jackson was not drafted in the first round to sit idly by and watch Flacco continue his decline. The Ravens spelled the elder with the rookie a few times against the Bills, and even played them both on the same play a handful of times. Teryl Austin will practically have to build two separate game plans, depending on whose taking the snaps. Statistics-wise, Jackson threw it four times and ran it seven in week one, so it doesn’t initially appear as though he did a lot. But his presence is enough to throw shade at defenses, forcing them to think about another element that Flacco cannot, nor has ever, brought to the table. Jackson’s presence has seemed to energize Flacco in the passing game, too, as he spread the ball around effectively against a weak Buffalo secondary, last week. Expect Preston Brown and Nick Vigil to share shadowing responsibilities with Jackson on the field.
Bringing it Home
This game will tell us a lot about our Bengals. The Colts, excluding Andrew Luck, are not a good team. The Ravens, however, are in the discussion of division champs, and have been perennial thorns in the Bengals’ side. Baltimore wants revenge for Cincinnati knocking them out of the playoff race, last year, and will be coming in to PBS fired up. I’ve seen the over under at 44.5 on this game and, if I were a betting man, would take the over.
Prediction: Ravens win 35-31. Joe Mixon will continue to build momentum toward stardom, but I see Baltimore pounding Dalton with a consistent rush that will force a few turnovers in key places. A new receiving core of Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead, and John Brown will cause all Bengals defensive backs not named Jackson headaches, which will also open up the running game for the Ravens.
P.S. – I hope that’s wrong.
Check out @lockedonBengals on Twitter as well as my handle @jefffcarr. I will be tweeting tonight and all season.
A prediction for Sunday, plus thoughts on Mayfield and the AFC North
I give a prediction for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, plus I react to the Browns’ win last night, discuss Baker Mayfield’s performance and more on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
Mark Walton is Ready for the Challenge
This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will look for production out of their rookie running back they selected in the fourth round. Some expressed concern over the pick, but make no mistake, Mark Walton is ready to showcase his talent.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you saw his performance in the preseason, and you may have had some questions. Let me enlighten you as to why I am looking forward to…no…excited to see Walton get some plays in.
Walton saw his junior season cut short due to an ankle injury, but before that happened, he compiled a pair of impressive games. He became just the fifth Miami Hurricane to ever rush for 200+ yards in a game, and he did it on 11 carries! Here are some highlights from that game:
His last full season of college football, 2016, he was the starter, as a sophomore, for the Hurricanes. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. He made it on to the third team, All-ACC, according to the ACSMA and ACC coaches, and that was in a year that guys like Dalvin Cook, James Conner, and Wayne Gallman all made All-Conference in the ACC. Here are a few highlights from his sophomore campaign:
Walton was touted as a steal by some national writers (the same who have dogged the Bengals this year). He’s got winning pedigree, because he won a state title with Booker T. Washington high school, in Miami, and he ran a 4.6 40-yd dash. He profiles, according to NFL.com, as a third-down back with speed on the outside and decent hands. Look for him to spell Gio on some passing downs and, maybe, even see them in, together, if Bill Lazor decides to get creative. I mean, come on, if he’s this good in shorts, he’s a shoe-in to turn some heads when he puts on the pads:
Make sure you’ve got your subscription to the podcast, you’ve rated it five stars, and you keep your Twitter feed tuned in to @lockedonBengals, @jamesrapien, and @jefffcarr for all your daily Bengals content, throughout the season.
The offense should survive without Price and Mixon
I discuss the Bengals’ offense, why they should survive without Billy Price and Joe Mixon, plus I chat with Darqueze Dennard on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
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