Game Preview: Ravens Respecting Bengals

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Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh admitted he was "very surprised" by the way the Bengals got beat, 38-24, by the New England Patriots in Week 1.

That's not the Bengals team the Ravens know, not by a long shot.

Last season Cincinnati swept the Ravens in both meetings en route to winning the AFC North title. So this year, Baltimore isn't putting much stock in the Bengals' season-opening collapse and is instead remembering just how good they play against the Ravens.

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"The Bengals will get back to being the Bengals. They'll get back to what they did last year," Harbaugh said. "They handed it to us twice in convincing fashion, and that's the team we expect to see on Sunday."

Last year the Bengals defeated the Ravens in Baltimore, 17-14, on a touchdown in the final minute. Then the Ravens travelled to Cincinnati just four weeks later and this time were handed a more sound defeat. The Ravens accrued just 215 net yards of offense, including 55 on the ground.

The losses were humbling for the Ravens, who had swept the Bengals in 2008.

"I think the first game was a game that we felt like we should have come out of there with [the win], and the second game, when I look back on it, I feel like they beat us up a little bit and they deserved to win that game," Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco said.

"We've got to come with our 'A' game, and we're going to have something to show."

Both teams have high hopes for this season after each made offseason additions to improve playoff rosters from a year ago. But only one of them is going to win the AFC North crown and host a postseason game.

As of now, the Ravens have the leg up. Cincinnati came out flat against the Patriots, falling into a 24-point deficit in the first half. The defense gave up big plays throughout the afternoon as five different Patriots notched a gain of at least 20 yards.

But despite the loss, some pundits wonder if the Bengals enter the game in a better place. The Ravens' Monday night win over the Jets was physically and emotionally costly and Baltimore had just five days to rest and prepare for the Bengals.

"I don't think it's a natural letdown, not when you got swept by the Bengals last year," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "Everybody is talking about the way they played against New England, but the bottom line – if you've been around the business long enough – if you fall for that, you'll fall for anything."

Three Things For A Ravens Win

Pressure Carson Palmer: The Bengals quarterback has picked apart the Ravens secondary before. He's got the accuracy, the arm and the playmakers to do so again – if given time. Baltimore has focused on upping it's pass rush all offseason and this is where they may need it the most.

Run Downhill: One way to keep Palmer off the field is to keep the clock running when Baltimore has the ball. The Ravens' rush game didn't reach liftoff against the Jets, but the Bengals' defense isn't quite as stout. Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le'Ron McClain are all fresh and ready to churn out some yardage.

Cut Down On Turnovers: Three turnovers in their first four possessions Monday night almost cost the Ravens a win. Joe Flacco threw four interceptions in two games against the Bengals last year. Cincinnati has a good pair of cornerbacks in Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph so Flacco must protect the ball.

Ravens                          Category                           Bengals

1-0. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2009 Record . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0-1

Won 1. . . . . . . . . . . . Longest Streak . . . . . . . . . . . .Lost 1

  1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Scored . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
  1. . . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . . . . .3
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .1
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Scored . . . . . . . .2
  1. . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns on Returns . . . . . . . . . .0

9 . . . . . . . . . . . . Points Against . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

  1. . . . . . . . . . . Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . . . . .5
  1. . . . . . . . Rushing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .0
  1. . . . . . . . Passing Touchdowns Allowed . . . . . . . .3
  1. . . . . . . . . . . TDs Allowed by Return . . . . . . . . . . .2

38:32. . . . . . . . . . . Time of Posession Avg.. . . . . . . . . . .31:50

-2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Turnover Ratio . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .-2

50.0%. . . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. For . . . . . . . . .100.0%

0.0%. . . . . . . . Red Zone TD Pct. Against . . . . . . .60.0%

18.0. . . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . .17.5

24.5. . . . . . . . . . . . KOR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . .46.0

1.3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. For . . . . . . . . . . . . . .n/a

15.5. . . . . . . . . . . . . PR Avg. Against . . . . . . . . . . . .4.0

Ravens

Bengals

Category

Stats

Rank

Stats

Rank

Total Offense

282

23

428

3

Rush Offense

49

29(t)

87

23

Pass Offense

233

13

341

3

Points/Game

10

26(t)

24

7(t)

Total Defense

176

3

376

25(t)

Rush Defense

116

20

118

21(t)

Pass Defense

60

1

258

24(t)

Points/Game

9

3(t)

38

31(t)

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