Everything You Need to Know: Ravens vs. Bengals

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Basics

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Paul Brown Stadium

TV: CBS Channel 13 (Baltimore) CBS crew (Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Jay Feely)

Radio: WBAL (1090AM/101.5FM) & 98Rock (97.9FM), Ravens crew (Gerry Sandusky, Jarret Johnson)

Jersey color: White

Stakes

A victory would make the Ravens 7-2 for the first time since 2012, their last Super Bowl-winning season. They lead the AFC North and are the No. 2 seed in the AFC. Every game is important in their quest to secure a first-round bye. Cincinnati is the only winless team in the NFL and badly wants its first victory under new Head Coach Zac Taylor.

History

The Ravens hold a 24-23 lead in the all-time series. Baltimore has won the last two, including a 23-17 victory in Week 6 at M&T Bank Stadium. Lamar Jackson rushed for 152 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries. Marlon Humphrey had an interception and Justin Tucker was three-for-three on field-goal attempts.

Key Storylines

Is the Ravens defense too much for Bengals rookie quarterback Ryan Finley?

Finley has a tough challenge making his first start against a complex Baltimore defense. The Ravens got to Tom Brady with some of their blitzes, so it stands to reason Finley will have some anxious moments. The Bengals hope he keeps his poise, while the Ravens will try to unnerve him.

Will Baltimore avoid a letdown?

The Ravens are coming off impressive wins over Seattle and New England, and this game against the NFL’s only winless team won’t generate the same pre-game buzz. It’s the first time since the 1970 merger that a team will have beaten an opponent who was 8-0 or better, then face a winless team the next week. This isn’t the time for a letdown.

“What would last week’s win mean if we go out there and just lay an egg?” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “Nobody wants to do that. It doesn’t take any extra motivation to want to go out and win a game. We know what we’re here for. It’s only better if we win.”

Will a second look at Lamar Jackson help the Bengals?

Jackson ran for 152 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati in Week 6. The Bengals have seen Jackson’s speed in person, and they’ve had a few more weeks to game plan, including a bye last week. Will it help? That remains to be seen.

Key Matchups

Ravens rushing attack vs. Bengals run defense

Baltimore has the NFL’s top rushing attack while Cincinnati ranks last in total defense surrendering 435.8 yards per game. If the Bengals don’t adjust, both Jackson and Mark Ingram II could have huge games on the ground.

Ravens secondary vs. Finley

Baltimore’s secondary is healthier than it’s been all season and young quarterbacks are often prone to making mistakes. If Finley could pay a price if he isn’t careful throwing in the direction of players like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and Earl Thomas III.

Ravens tight ends vs. Bengals pass defense

Mark Andrews nearly had a 100-yard receiving day the last time he faced Cincinnati (six catches, 99 yards). Nick Boyle finally scored his first career touchdown last week, and Hayden Hurst is also a potential matchup problem for Cincinnati. If the Ravens’ tight ends are rolling, they’ll be tough to stop offensively.

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