The last time these two teams met was in Week 1 in Baltimore. The Bengals made five field goals to start the game, and although the Ravens responded with a Steve Smith, Sr. touchdown, they only held a 1-point lead for 48 seconds.
Historically, playing the Bengals (particularly on the road) has been as tough of a game as any for the Ravens. All-time, Baltimore is 7-11 when playing in Cincinnati.
Here’s what to look for on Sunday.
Hurst and Urschel
James Hurst and John Urschel have done an admirable job filling in on the left side of the offensive line for Eugene Monroe and Kelechi Osemele (both of whom practiced Wednesday). When these two rookies match-up against the likes of Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, it’ll show how ready they really are. If Monroe and Osemele aren’t “up” on Sunday, Hurst and Urschel will face their toughest test to date.
Mosley v. Bernard
This is going to be a fantastic match-up. C.J. Mosley and Giovani Bernard are two of the better young players in the entire NFL, and they just so happen to be facing each other this week. Mosley has justified his pre-draft praise by showing superior instincts and impressive versatility. Bernard has had a similar start to this season, as he’s taken initiative to lead his unit despite being among more experienced players.
Mosley is one of only three players (Minnesota’s Robert Blanton and Washington’s Keenan Robinson) to have at least 50 tackles, an interception, and a fumble recovery. Among all running backs and wide receivers, Bernard ranks 11th in total yards per game (96.3).
It’ll be a real treat to watch these two men go against each other on Sunday, and potentially for the next decade.
Forsett v. Burfict
Vontaze Burfict suffered a cervical strain last week at Indianapolis and has been fighting nagging injuries throughout this season. But acccording to Rotoworld, Marvin Lewis said Monday that Vontaze Burfict was “fine.” Despite his abrasive antics, Burfict is a really good talent. He can be as good as he wants to be if he doesn’t let his emotions get the best of him. He’s posted 320 total tackles in 34 career starts and led the league in that category last season (171).
Justin Forsett is equally talented. He ranks 4th in rushing (503 yards) while only getting the 17th-most carries (87). Forsett is also a receiving threat and should be able to beat any Bengals linebacker in man coverage.
Which Jones will be the better returner?
Both Adam Jones and Jacoby Jones have sky-high swagger and talent, but this year Adam has been performing while Jacoby has not. As you can see, one player is not only better, he has twice the average of the other:
- Adam’s kick/punt return average: 52.3 yards/16.5 yards
- Jacoby’s kick/punt return average: 29.7 yards/8.2 yards
This is a really good time for Jacoby to snap out of his funk, considering how much field position will matter in this game.
Flacco’s ball control
The Ravens rolled last week, but I wasn’t thrilled with Joe Flacco’s performance. The two interceptions he threw could’ve been avoided, and they decreased the team’s margin for error. He has to be better this week at Cincinnati; the Bengals scoring defense (18th) is far better than that of the Falcons (30th).
In 13 games against Cincinnati, Flacco’s touchdown-to-interception ratio is .81:1 (13-16). His touchdown-to-interception ratio against all other teams is 1.82:1 (122-67).
Regarding where Flacco is and where he needs to be for this team to get where it wants to go, John Harbaugh said it best on Monday:
“We have a lot of football left to play, and we’re not a good enough football team right now to accomplish the things that we plan on accomplishing.”
Bengals 23, Ravens 21