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Jersey Color: Purple
The Ravens missed the playoffs for the third time in four years last season. They have spent all offseason planning and practicing their route back to the postseason. Sunday's game will be the first indication of how good the Ravens will be this season, and it will play out in the home of an AFC North rival who Baltimore could likely end up jockeying with for playoff position.
The Ravens haven't won in Cincinnati's Paul Brown Stadium since 2011. The Ravens have been victorious just once in the team's last seven meetings overall. Baltimore ended last season with a loss in Cincinnati after both teams were already out of playoff contention.
Joe Flacco's BackFlacco will play in his first game since facing the Bengals at the end of last season. He missed all of training camp and the preseason because of a back injury, leading to a number of questions. Will his back be alright after taking a hit? Will he have his usual strength and endurance? Independent of his back injury, Flacco hasn't played well at Paul Brown Stadium in recent years. In four games since 2012, he's thrown six interceptions to one touchdown and posted a quarterback rating of 56.1.
Ravens' Offensive Chemistry
Flacco wasn't the only player in the offense to miss time over the past month. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman, running back Danny Woodhead and left tackle Ronnie Stanley were all sidelined for extended periods. The Ravens offensive line was shuffled throughout training camp due to injuries. All of it leads to questions about how much chemistry the unit will have.
Defense's Regular-Season Debut
Baltimore's defense absolutely dominated in the preseason, adding even more fuel to the well-justified hype surrounding the unit. Now it will kick off the regular season against a dynamic and explosive Bengals offense featuring wide receiver A.J. Green, quarterback Andy Dalton and a trio of talented running backs. If the offense has troubles given the fact that it's playing together in a game for the first time, the defense may need to carry the load.
CB Jimmy Smith vs. WR A.J. Green
The aforementioned Green has been a major thorn in the Ravens' side in recent years. He's beaten them with game-winning touchdowns in back-to-back years (2014 and 2015) and sent a 2013 game to overtime with a Hail Mary snag. Smith is the Ravens' No. 1 cornerback and has had his fair share of battles against Green. He's feeling faster and stronger this year than in any previous season.
G Marshal Yanda vs. DT Geno Atkins
Yanda and Atkins are two of the best in the NFL at their respective positions, and their twice-annual clashes are as good as it gets in the trenches. Yanda talked this week about his excitement about the Ravens' recommitment to the running game. If Baltimore is going to have success on the ground, Yanda is going to have to pave the way for an offensive line with three new starting pieces.
S Tony Jefferson vs. TE Tyler Eifert
The Ravens signed Jefferson to be a physical presence around the line of scrimmage and help lock down opposing tight ends. The 6-foot-6 Eifert is going to be one of Jefferson's toughest challenges. Eifert had 13 touchdowns in 2015, which was the last time he was healthy for most the year. The Bengals will look for him in the red zone. Playing in his first regular-season game as a Raven, Jefferson will be amped up.