Two teams that are going to be fighting for the AFC North title for the entire season face off in the second week. This will be an early test for both teams to see who gets the early edge in the division. Bengals swept the division last year and I don’t think the Ravens forgot.
Offense: Advantage Ravens
Ravens had a good showing against the best defense in football, the Jets. Todd Heap is uncertain if he can play on Sunday. That would be a big blow to this offense considering he was Flacco’s second best receiver on Monday night. The inability of Bengals pass rush will give more time for Flacco to move the ball. Ray Rice didn’t have a good game against the Jets, 21 rushes for 43 yards, but I don’t expect the same results this week. Look for Rice to be more of a factor on offense.
The Bengals did throw the ball effectively against the Patriots in the second half. Well that’s the problem, only in the second half. Once New England were up 31-3, its hard for a defense to play as good as they did in the first half knowing your going to win the game. Cedric Benson couldn’t find any running room and finished the game with 15 rushes for 43 yards and a touchdown. Potentially, they have better offense then the Ravens but they need to get the running game started. That’s what carried them to the playoffs last year.
Defense: Advantage Ravens
It’s not going to be easy to replicate the defensive performance the Ravens put on Monday night. They only gave up six first downs and a total of 176 yards for the entire game. They do have a vulnerable secondary that could be suspect to big plays, although, their front seven played fantastic against the Jets. They didn’t give up any big plays on the ground or in the air. The biggest key to the Ravens defense is their tackling. Every time Sanchez check down the ball, which was virtually every pass play, the Ravens tackled the ball carrier for no additional yardage. They never allowed an easy big play.
Bengals have the reverse situation then the Ravens. The Bengals have a great back seven instead of Ravens great front seven. Everyone knows the saying “football games are won and lost in the trenches.” Bengals loss to the Patriots is a perfect example of that. Bengals have one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL with Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall. They actually did a good job covering Wes Welker and Randy Moss. Although when you can’t rush the passer, wide receivers and tide ends eventually get opened. Their were times when Tom Brady was sitting in the pocket for more then five seconds, that’s without guard Logan Mankins. You can’t give quarterbacks that much time in the pocket, especially Brady.
Special Teams: Advantage Ravens
Ravens and Bengals didn’t particularly have a great day on special teams. All it takes is one big play or mistake to alter a football game on special teams. Ravens gave up big punt return, which lead to a field goal. That was a big play considering the Jets couldn’t move the ball. However, Bengals play was much worse. You can’t come out of half time, knowing you need a three and out to get your offense back on the field, and give up a 97 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to basically seal the game. That was inexcusable.
Prediction: Ravens 20 Bengals 17
Despite the Raven having a better offense, defense and special teams, its still a division game where wins are hard to come by. The Bengals could sneak out the victory if they can get their running game back on track. Once they become one-dimensional, Bengals chances of wining are slim to none. Bengals swept the Ravens last year because Cedric Benson rushed for 120 and 117 yards in both games.
About the Author
Written by Frisco Fahs