Majority of Pundits Pick Ravens to Win a Close One
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow said on a podcast in May that he loves playing the Ravens, and not just because he threw for nearly 1,000 yards in two wins over Baltimore last season by a combined score of 82-38.
"[The Ravens] talk. I love that," Burrow said. "[The score] was a lot to a little. I threw for 520-something in the second one and I threw for 400-something in the first one. … Yeah, I love playing the Ravens. They like to talk."
One subject the Ravens — cornerback Marlon Humphrey in particular — don't like to talk about is last year's games against the Bengals. Humphrey's sole focus is on Sunday night's meeting with the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium, which is understandable because it's a pivotal game for both teams.
One of the consequences of the Ravens losing two games this season they probably should've won is that they've squandered an opportunity to take control of the AFC North. The defending AFC champion Bengals lost their first two games, but they won their next two and now there's a three-way tie for first in the division between the Ravens, Bengals, and Cleveland Browns.
"Best game of the week. Whoever loses will be 2-3, while the winner has a lead in the AFC North and a critical win," Fansided’s Matt Vederame wrote.
A majority of the pundits we sampled (29 of 42) picked the Ravens to prevail. The consensus among those who predicted the score is that the game will be much closer than last year's Ravens-Bengals contests, as 24 of 26 have it being decided by four points or less.
Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying about the game:
Lamar Jackson willoutduel Burrow in aRavenswin.
Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: "Lamar Jackson is playing much, much better than Joe Burrow this season, and that's going to be the difference on Sunday night."
Bleacher Report’s Ian Kenyon: "The Lamar Jackson MVP tour continues in Week 5. Ravens should win this by at least a field goal."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "Jackson's legs will be [the Ravens'] salvation in another close game."
This will be a statement win for Head Coach John Harbaugh and the Ravens.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: "This is a John Harbaugh-reminds-us-that-he-is-a-good-coach-game. Backed into the corner, saying all the right things this week, doing all the right things this week, pushing all the right buttons on his players to get maximum performance defensively, offensively, and just finding a way. It's just getting to the point where it's embarrassing. They've lost five in a row at home — unacceptable for the Ravens; Harbaugh's not going to let that stand. And, all due respect to [Bengals Head Coach] Zac Taylor, in a contest between Harbaugh and Taylor, I'm taking Harbaugh."
The Ravens won't let another victory slip through their fingers.
Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich: "This is almost a must-win, Week 5 game for the Ravens, who have lost five straight games at home. … The Ravens are the more desperate team and this time they finish the game."
Burrow will lead the Bengals to victory in a shootout.
NFL.com’s Nick Shook: "I didn't like the Ravens' chances against the Bills last week because of the way they blew an early, commanding lead over Miami in Week 2. And Baltimore repeated that script in Week 4, letting a 20-3 advantage over Buffalo melt away in the final moments. Two instances is enough to sap my confidence in the Ravens' defense and its ability to protect a home lead. Cincinnati brings a strong offensive lineup capable of putting points on the board and erasing a deficit if necessary. … Joe Burrow is also quite good on the big stage, averaging the most passing yards (317) per prime-time game among quarterbacks with at least three such starts in their careers since 1970. If we've learned one thing about these Ravens, it's that they're susceptible to giving up big passing games to opposing quarterbacks in Baltimore. Add in the bright lights, and you're setting up for a shootout — one I think Burrow can win."
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: "The Bengals have turned their season around with two straight victories, mostly because the offense has started to play better. That's not a good thing for a Ravens defense that is struggling. Look for Joe Burrow to win a shootout here with Lamar Jackson. First one to 35 wins. It's the Bengals."
Chase will have another big game against the Ravens.
ESPN’s Ben Baby: "Ja'Marr Chase will have more than 125 receiving yards. Baltimore's defense has struggled, and the amount of damage opposing teams have done through the air bodes well for the Bengals and Chase, who has received extra attention from opposing teams this season."
CBS Sports’ Will Brinson: "Joe Burrow is starting to cook and the Ravens are a picture-perfect matchup for Cincy — they don't really rush the passer well and they're willing to give up big plays on the backend. The Bengals' offensive line could look good here and I expect a TON of points — this feels like a Ja'Marr Chase blowup spot."
|ESPN||4 of 7 panelists pick Ravens|
|Baltimore Sun||Ravens 30, Bengals 26||“The Ravens have outplayed the Bengals through four games but have only a 2-2 record to show for it. Can their defense be trusted to make a late stand against [Joe] Burrow if the game is close? Can their offensive line give [Lamar] Jackson time to work against a defense that beat him up last season? This would be an easier call if the Ravens were not again facing injury questions at key spots, but Jackson’s legs will be their salvation in another close game.” — Childs Walker|
|USA Today||5 of 6 panelists pick Ravens|
|NFL.com||Ravens 27, Bengals 23||“The Bengals’ defense is great at preventing big plays, while the Ravens’ offense is great at making them. The Ravens’ defense, meanwhile, has given up plenty of big plays, while the Bengals are among the league’s least explosive offenses despite the presence of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.” — Gregg Rosenthal|
|NFL Network||7 of 10 panelists pick Bills|
|Sporting News||Bengals 27, Ravens 24||“The Ravens' pass defense isn't living up to expectations because it still needs to blitz to create pressure and its cover cornerbacks are disappointing. The Bengals'' passing game is back to starting hot with Joe Burrow and he can again look for the right mismatches for his wide receiver trio. The Ravens will have success throwing downfield with Lamar Jackson but they don't have the same type of firepower and can't effectively play ball control with their traditional running game.” — Vinnie Iyer|
|CBS Sports||4 of 7 panelists pick Ravens||“Baltimore could EASILY be 4-0, were it not for two 17-point-lead chokes. I think they do their prime-time thing and win in a very fun SNF game here.”— Will Brinson|
|Pro Football Talk||3 of 3 panelists pick Ravens||“This one is all about coach John Harbaugh finding a way to end a five-game home losing streak.” — Mike Florio|
|Sports Illustrated||4 of 5 panelists pick Ravens|
|FanSided||Bengals 34, Ravens 30||“Best game of the week. Whoever loses will be 2-3, while the winner has a lead in the AFC North and a critical win. I’ll take the better passing game, and better defense.” — Matt Verderame|
Hayden Hurst Looking Forward to Returning to M&T Bank Stadium
Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst returns to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since the Ravens traded him two years ago to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for a second-round pick (which turned out to be J.K. Dobbins).
Hurst, who was selected by the Ravens in the first round in 2018, said he is excited to be back in Baltimore but this isn't a revenge game for him.
"I have no hard feelings toward Baltimore," Hurst said via The Athletic. "It was a great two years. Obviously, I wish things would have been different. That's just the way this business goes, so I move on. I'm in a great place here. It'll be really cool seeing the guys, seeing some of the coaches, obviously seeing Nick (Boyle) and Mark (Andrews), seeing some of the restaurant owners that we used to go to. It'll be a good time."
After Andrews, a 2018 third-round pick, emerged as a top-tier tight end, Hurst expressed his desire for a bigger role following the 2019 season. General Manager Eric DeCosta understood and accommodated Hurst with a trade that also benefited the Ravens.
Hurst, who signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati this offseason, has 14 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown as the starting tight end.
"Opportunity. I think I said it in March, that's all I've ever asked for and I'm finally getting it," Hurst said when asked what is working for him in Cincinnati. "Coaches are honest with me. I'm starting to make those bigger plays — those third downs, those fourth downs, the red zone. They're calling my number more and more. That's all I've ever wanted, man."
Andrews said earlier this week that he and Hurst stay in touch and he’s happy for his former teammate’s success.
"It'll be good to see him. Obviously I hope he does well – not too well," Andrews said. "I've watched him play a few times and it looks like he's really made a role for himself in that offense and is playing well. I expect nothing less from him."