Bengals Have Given Flacco Trouble
Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, a former Ravens defensive coordinator, has given quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense fits over the years. In 15 career regular-season starts against the Bengals, Flacco has posted a 71.9 quarterback rating and thrown 19 interceptions to 15 touchdowns. Compare that to 11 interceptions versus the Cleveland Browns in 17 games, and eight interceptions against the Steelers in 16 games. The Bengals secondary will likely stick to the game plan and get physical with the Ravens receivers at the line of scrimmage and force Flacco to hit some tight throws.
Cincy Has A Big-Bodied Weapon Not Named Green
Star Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green won't play because of a hamstring injury, but the Bengals have another dangerous big target. Their 6-foot-6 tight end, Tyler Eifert, has 16 catches for 244 yards and a touchdown in four games since returning from an offseason ankle injury. Eifert is tough to handle in the red zone and went off for nine catches for 102 yards and a score in his second game back. The Ravens haven't dealt with a tight end like him yet this season.
Rejuvenated Ravens Pass Rush
The Ravens only got one sack on Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott last week, but it could be a different story with Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton coming to town. Dalton has been sacked the third-most times in the NFL this year (29) behind a shaky offensive* *line, particularly at right tackle where Cedric Ogbuehi has struggled. If the Ravens get veteran pass rusher Elvis Dumervil (foot) back this week, they could especially turn up the heat. Dumervil had a sack/strip on Dalton that linebacker C.J. Mosley returned for a touchdown last year.
Time For Baltimore To Run Again?
The Ravens had just two rushes in the second half of their 27-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys after getting off to a hot start on the ground. Baltimore could stick with a more run-heavy attack this week considering the Bengals rank 28th in the NFL against the rush, allowing 123.4 yards per game. Watch out for rookie running back Kenneth Dixon, who seems to be gaining more confidence by the week. Dixon has averaged 6.5 yards per run over the past two weeks, but received just six carries each game. Head Coach John Harbaugh said on Monday that he'd like to see more of Dixon.
The Cornerback Dilemma
Baltimore's secondary has struggled without top cornerback Jimmy Smith this year in losses to the New York Giants and Cowboys. With Smith still dealing with a back injury, the Ravens need to get better production opposite rookie Tavon Young. Shareece Wright had a tough day in Dallas, but he's bounced back before. The Ravens could also rely more on Jerraud Powers on the outside. Even without Green, Cincinnati has second-round wide receiver Tyler Boyd and veteran Brandon LaFell to worry about, along with Eifert.