The Ravens take on the Cincinnati Bengals and rookie QB Joe Burrow on Sunday at 1 PM at M&T Bank Stadium. RSR staff predict what we’ll see here…
Every time the Ravens square off against the Bengals I feel like they should crush the cats from Cincinnati. Yet it doesn’t always play out that way. In fact, under John Harbaugh the Ravens are 12-12 when facing their AFC North foes and 25-23 in franchise history.
The last time these teams hooked up in the Queen City on November 10, 2019, it was a Lamar Jackson highlight reel. The Ravens put up 49 points during a game in which Lamar had a perfect 158.3 passer rating, going 15-of-17 for 223 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs in just three quarters of play. Lamar added 65 rushing yards, including a spinning, electrifying 47-yard TD run that inspired PBP man Kevin Harlan to label him “Houdini”.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 13, 2019
Sunday marks the 49th meeting between these clubs and the last time they met the Ravens won 49-13. Will “49” have some significance on Sunday? Maybe…
• Lamar Jackson WILL play and the Bengals WILL wish he hadn’t. They will get their wish in part by the fourth quarter when Lamar takes a seat with his team leading 35-7. During his three quarters of play LJ will go 20 of 25 for 247 yards and 3 TD tosses, two of which will land in the arms of his speedy No. 1, Marquise Brown who will also crack the century mark. That said, this will be the first time in 19 games that Lamar will not exceed 40 yards rushing.
• Tyus Bowser will add two sacks pushing his seasonal total to four. One will be a strip sack that will be recovered by Matt Judon who scampers in for a defensive score.
• Joe Burrow throws over 50 times for 360 yards for 2 scores and 1 interception. The pick will belong to Chuck Clark.
• Joe Mixon is coming off a 151 yard outing v. the Jaguars. He’ll be held to less than a 1/3 of that total by the Ravens although he will score the game’s first TD via an 18-yard screen pass from Burrow.
• The Ravens win combined with losses by the Browns and Steelers puts John Harbaugh & Co. back on top in the AFC North.
• The Ravens will open as six-point road favorites in Philadelphia for Week 5.
Ravens 35 Bengals 14 (and there’s that No. 49 again)
— Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman has been effective in spreading out the workload with Gus Edwards (27 carries, 167 yards), Mark Ingram (34 carries, 148 yards ) and J.K. Dobbins (15 carries, 92 yards). Baltimore will use the same tactic against the Bengals, who are allowing 158.5 yards rushing per game – that ranks 27th in the NFL.
— Baltimore’s passing attack has been uneven and is averaging 180.8 yards per game, ranked 31st just ahead of the Jets. Cincinnati’s secondary is ranked 16th in the NFL allowing 243 yards passing per game. If the Bengals stock the box, Lamar Jackson will be forced to take some shots downfield and his receivers need to come down with the ball.
— Bengals rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has managed to throw for 1,121 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. However, Burrow has been sacked 15 times, which ranks second in the NFL behind Deshaun Watson. The Ravens will keep Burrow under pressure and force him to rush his throws. They will also give the first-year player different looks to confuse him.
— The Ravens are heavily favored in this game. but the Bengals have gotten better each week under Burrow. Cincinnati has also traditionally give Baltimore a tough game.
— Since 2010, 14 of the teams’ 19 meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.
Ravens 31 Bengals 20
The only thing that worries me here is that it looks like teams have figured out Wink’s 3rd-down blitz schemes, and are running devastating screens to counter them. It’s one thing when Patrick Mahomes & the Chiefs do it. But Dwayne Haskins and Washington? C’mon, man! If Wink tries to dial up big pressure on Burrow on 3rd down, Cincy has the backs (Mixon & Bernard) to make them pay on screens; hopefully Wink has done some self-scouting in this department. A.J. Green has been a ghost this season (just ask those of us that drafted him in fantasy), so I expect him to be his usual self against the purple & black.
Still, the Ravens should be able to outscore the Bengals easily enough, even with Jackson at less than 100%.
Ravens 34 Bengals 23
— Joe Burrow will perform well against the Ravens secondary, tossing two TDs and just one INT against a ball-hawking group. That being said, the Marlon Humphrey interception will be returned close to the goal line and will turn into quick points.
— The Bengals have a putrid run defense. With Jackson somewhat hobbled with a slight knee injury, look for Gus Bus and Ingram to get a ton of carries, topping 150 yards between them. Dobbins, however, will have a rushing score.
— Jackson finally hits Marquise Brown for an early TD of over 30 yards. Brown will top 75 yards on the day, too.
— Matt Judon continues to rewrite his season, sacking Burrow twice; two sacks in two straight games for Judon.
Ravens 34 Bengals 20
We can breathe a sigh of relief that Lamar is expected to play. I don’t expect to see him running very much if at all. The Bengals are just the team the Ravens need to be playing right now. Besides Lamar’s knee injury the Ravens are far from polished right now. That’s OK, because I’m very confident the team will improve significantly as the season goes on.
– Lamar passes for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. He will have no designed runs but scrambles for 20 yards.
– Mark Andrews will have another great week with 1 touchdown, 75 yards and 5 receptions.
– J.K. Dobbins will have over 100 scrimmage yards and 1 touchdown.
– Devin Duvernay will have a big play down the field of 50 plus yards.
– Marlon Humphrey forces another fumble.
– The Ravens will combine for 5 sacks.
– DeShon Elliott gets his first interception.
Ravens 38 Bengals 16
The Ravens have three wins this season so far. All three wins have been by at least two touchdowns. Although this is a divisional game, I’m not sure that trend stops in Week 5.
Cincinnati has been solid against the spread, going 4-0 to date. They’ve been able to keep games close, but I can’t foresee a scenario where that happens against the Ravens unless Lamar Jackson’s knee is really banged up. The Bengals have been keeping games close behind the play of Joe Burrow at quarterback. He’s been solid in his rookie year, but he hasn’t yet seen a defense quite like the Ravens.
Baltimore will be successful in confusing Burrow and force him into two interceptions on the way to a 31-13 win.
Cincinnati is 0-13-1 straight up in their last 14 road games. Baltimore is 7-2 straight up in their last nine home games.
My Pick: Baltimore -13