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5 Things To Watch at Bengals


Mallett's Encore

Quarterback Ryan Mallett had the entire town buzzing after he beat the Steelers just 12 days after signing with the Ravens. He showed off his big arm and a strong command of the offense in his debut, and he certainly set a high bar for himself for future games. Mallett made a compelling case for himself to have the backup quarterback job going into next season, and he could likely cement that status with another strong performance. Mallett certainly won't catch anyone by surprise this week, and the Ravens hope he can replicate some of the success he had against Pittsburgh.

Changes In Covering Green

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has been a Ravens killer over the course of his career, and that was evident in his 227-yard performance in Week 3. What changes will the Ravens make in trying to stop him this week? Cornerback Jimmy Smith has played well recently – he played a key role in slowing down Antonio Brown last week – so the Ravens could opt to have him follow Green all over the field. They could also try more complex coverages with zone defenses that give the cornerbacks more help from safeties over the top. The Ravens know as well as anyone how dangerous Green can be, and stopping him will be a top priority in Sunday's game.

Pressure On McCarron

Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron will be making just his third NFL start this week, and the Ravens will certainly try to keep him from getting into a rhythm. McCarron has played well in his two starts, throwing four touchdowns to two interceptions. The former Alabama quarterback has played in plenty of big games over the course of his career, so he's not likely to be rattled. But the Ravens will look for opportunities to get pressure in his face and potentially disguise the defenses they throw at him.

Aiken Chasing 1,000 Yards

In a year with so many injuries, Kamar Aiken has been the Ravens' last wide receiver standing. He earned a starting job out of training camp and hasn't looked back since. He has proven himself a viable starter over the course of the season, and he actually has a chance to eclipse the 1,000-yard receiving mark with a big game Sunday. Aiken needs 132 yards to make that happen, and he said that it would "be big to get it because you never know when you're going to get another chance." Aiken has been Baltimore's most reliable skilled player all season, and a strong finish would cap off his stellar season.

Potential Last Games

Just like every season, a handful of players won't be back with the Ravens next year. The Ravens have a few pending free agents at key positions, most notably at left tackle and outside linebacker. Kelechi Osemele and Courtney Upshaw are both playing their final game under their rookie contracts, and it's up in the air as to whether they will return in 2016. They have both been key players over the last four seasons, and played key roles during the run to Super Bowl XLVII. If this does end up being their final game in a Ravens uniform, that would be an end to quietly productive four-year runs in Baltimore.

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