Kickoff: 8:15 p.m., Thursday, M&T Bank Stadium
TV: WMAR Channel 2 (Baltimore), Amazon NFL on Prime Video and more. Al Michaels (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst), Kaylee Hartung (sideline)
Radio: WBAL 1090 AM & 98 Rock 97.9 FM, Sirius FM Chs. 82 or 229. Ravens crew Gerry Sandusky (play-by-play), Rod Woodson (analyst). Westwood One Sports, Tom McCarthy (play-by-play), Jason McCourty (analyst)
Baltimore leads the all-time series, 29-27, including regular season and postseason. In Week 2, the Ravens won a 27-24 decision in Cincinnati as Lamar Jackson (24 for 33, 237 yards) threw touchdown passes to Mark Andrews (five catches, 45 yards) and Nelson Agholor (five catches, 63 yards). The victory raised Jackson's career record against the Bengals to 7-1 as a starter. Geno Stone led the Ravens with nine tackles and intercepted Joe Burrow in the third quarter to help protect Baltimore's lead.
A victory would keep the Ravens atop the AFC North and give them a season sweep over Cincinnati for the first time since 2020. Baltimore can quickly turn around the momentum from Sunday's frustrating loss to the Browns and would vault into the top seed in the AFC with a win and Chiefs loss to the Eagles on Monday night. The Bengals are last in the division, but a victory would move them within a half game of Baltimore, while a loss would drop them to 0-3 in the AFC North and 5-5 on the season with a challenging schedule remaining. It would seriously damage their chances to win a third straight division title.
Will the Ravens avoid more fourth quarter woes?
Since 2021, the Ravens have lost nine games in which they've led by at least seven points starting the fourth quarter. The latest was Sunday's 33-31 loss to Cleveland, when Baltimore lost a 14-point lead in the final 11 minutes. Starting fast hasn't been an issue for the Ravens; they've scored first in nine of their 10 games. But if the Ravens head into the fourth quarter holding a lead, it will be imperative for them to protect it against Burrow, one of the league's best comeback artists.
Can the Ravens continue their recent success against Burrow?
In four games against the Ravens since Mike Macdonald became defensive coordinator, Burrow has averaged just 215.7 yards passing and has been sacked nine times. That's a huge change from 2021, when Burrow threw for 416 yards passing in Baltimore, then cooked the Ravens for 525 passing yards in Cincinnati. Baltimore has succeeded recently in keeping Burrow from making big plays, but he's healthier than when the Ravens saw him in Week 2. The more the Ravens can keep Burrow in check, the better their chances of winning.
Will Lamar Jackson continue his mastery of the Bengals?
Jackson's 7-1 career record as a starter against the Bengals is significant, because Jackson and Burrow figure to battle for division titles for years to come. In eight starts against Cincinnati, Jackson has thrown 12 touchdown passes and four interceptions while averaging 79.5 yards rushing, and his ability to make plays with his legs has given the Bengals problems. The Ravens want to put more distance between themselves and Cincinnati, and the Bengals need to find more answers for Jackson to keep that from happening.
Players to Watch
RB Keaton Mitchell
Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated Mitchell could get more touches and he's injected explosiveness into the rushing attack with runs of 60, 40 and 39 yards in the last two games. The rookie running back wasn't active when the Ravens faced Cincinnati in Week 2. The Bengals have seen Mitchell's runs on tape, but dealing with his speed in real time is different. Another big play or two from Mitchell would help turn the game in Baltimore's favor.
CB Brandon Stephens
When Marlon Humphrey was sidelined in Week 2 against the Bengals, Stephens played every defensive snap and was part of a secondary that held Ja'Marr Chase to five catches for 31 yards. Humphrey (calf) may be out of action again, and Baltimore will need another strong game from Stephens, who's having an excellent year at cornerback as an important piece of the defense.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham loves centerstage, and "Thursday Night Football" with the Ravens wearing all-black will be his kind of atmosphere. With a touchdown in each of the last two games, Beckham seems to be finding his comfort zone. He's had success against Cincinnati in the past, including Super Bowl LVI while playing for the Rams, when Beckham appeared on his way to winning the MVP until suffering a serious knee injury. Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews have been Jackson's favorite targets, which may leave Beckham with opportunities to beat one-on-one coverage.