The Cincinnati Bengals, a team that was once an automatic “W” and a divisional doormat.
The Cincinnati Bengals, a team that once produced more annual arrests than wins.
The Cincinnati Bengals, a team that turned the corner a few years ago, and are now a formidable opponent.
Today those same Cincinnati Bengals stand between the Baltimore Ravens and a controlling position in the AFC North.
In recent years the Ravens have struggled against the Bengals. Since John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco came onto the scene the Ravens are 7-6 against Marvin Lewis & Co. During some of those games we have been witnesses to a few of Joe Flacco’s worst career performances.
Consider these noteworthy stats during the Harbaugh era when the Ravens take on the Bengals:
- In 13 career games Joe Flacco has thrown 13 TD passes and 18 interceptions leading to a passer rating of 69.8. Against the rest of the league Flacco’s career rating is 86.8.
- During those 13 games Flacco has been sacked 29 times.
- In the Ravens 7 victories Flacco’s passer rating is 93.2 while averaging just 27 attempts.
- In the Ravens 6 losses Flacco has had an average of 37 pass attempts.
- The Ravens average margin of victory in the 7 wins is 13.
- The Ravens average margin of loss in the 6 defeats is 8. (thanks Josh)
Thirteen games is a decent sampling size and if you can take anything away from the stats above, know that the Ravens are very effective against the Bengals when they operate from a balanced attack and don’t force Joe Flacco to chuck it 35-plus times.
If this isn’t enough evidence to concede that the Ravens need to run the football in Cincinnati then consider this. During their last 4 games the Bengals have surrendered 172 yards rushing ON AVERAGE to teams that collectively rank 19th in the league running the football.
The Ravens are the league’s 7th ranked rushing offense and they’ll need to act like it on Sunday. They need to commit to the run, believe in it and grind away at the league’s 31st ranked defense, 30th against the run. They need to resist the temptation to have Joe Flacco chuck it around on a mild, sunny day that will invite the pass.
Don’t do it!
During the Ravens last three meetings with the Bengals Flacco has thrown it an average of 49 times per game. That’s a losing formula.
The Ravens must go smash mouth on the Bengals. They must neutralize the A-gap blitzing and stay out of empty backfield situations with unaccounted for edge rushers.
Run the football!
If they do the Ravens can send a message to their divisional rivals and to the rest of the league.
And a win will allow them to control their own destiny.
Play like they played in Baltimore against the Bengals or in Indy against the Colts and chuck it all over the place, and they’ll return home as just another box of chocolates – an inconsistent team from which “you just never know what you’re gonna git.”