The Ravens seek to end a five-game skid at home as they host the Cincinnati Bengals before a national audience on Sunday Night Football. Last season Joe Burrow & Co. had their way with the Ravens, thumping the purple and black twice by the combined score of 82-38 as the striped cats signal caller shredded Baltimore’s secondary for seven touchdowns and 941 yards.
Given the Ravens 32nd-ranked pass defense, is there any reason to believe that things will be different this time around? Oddsmakers think so, as the Ravens are listed as 3-point favorites.
Here’s a look at how the RSR staff sees the game playing out.
Sometimes in the wonderful world of sports, one team has the number of another. Maybe it’s the way the personnel matches up. Maybe one coaching staff has the other figured out. Maybe one team seemingly gets all of the breaks. Maybe it’s all of the above.
The Ravens lead the all-time series vs. Cincinnati, 27-25, including a 17-9 mark in Charm City. Under head coach John Harbaugh, the series is tied, 14-14, with the Ravens going 9-5 at M&T Bank Stadium. After sweeping the Bengals in 2019 and 2020, Cincinnati clearly answered in 2021. So what will happen on Sunday night?
• This will be a shootout. Lamar Jackson will throw for 3 scores and add a house call by ground. The number 325 yards will appear to the right in LJ’s passing stat line. He will however, fall short of Joe Burrow’s aerial assault. Bad Macaulay Culkin will chuck it for 375 yards but a significant portion of Burrow’s total will be the result of soft coverage from the Ravens secondary as they once again attempt to protect a big lead.
• Lamar’s 3 scoring tosses will be distributed equally to Mark Andrews, Devin Duvernay and Demarcus Robinson who gets the start for Rashod Bateman. Robinson’s TD will be a long distance connection from 40+.
• Marcus Williams gets his 4th pick of the season on a deep attempt from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase.
The Ravens are 18-2 during prime time under John Harbaugh.
Make that 19-2!
Ravens 38, Bengals 34
It’s hard to label a Week 5 game as must-win, but following last weekend’s second-half debacle against Buffalo, and considering this is a home game against the reigning divisional champion on national television… well, let’s just say this is a big game for Baltimore. Here are a few predictions:
• Calais Campbell, Travis Jones and Justin Madubuike wear out the Bengals’ interior line, and control the run game. The Bengals are averaging .7 yards per run before contact, per PFF, and a lot of that is on a poor interior line. Madubuike also continues his hot start, and shines in front of the football-watching nation with 1.5 sacks.
• Mike Hilton is off to a nice start for the Bengals as an interior corner, but I think he’s too small to do much with Mark Andrews, and as much as I love Logan Wilson, I don’t think he can do much, either. The Ravens tight end responds from a middling performance against Buffalo with 120-plus yards and a touchdown.
• The Bengals receivers will stress a Ravens defensive backfield that is still trying to gel, but it will be death by a thousand cuts instead of the big plays we saw last year. Burrow throws for 300-plus, but less that seven yards an attempt.
• Brandon Stephens has been terrific on blitzes (a 73.4 score from PFF on pass rush). He gets a sack Sunday night.
• Lamar Jackson is good, but not great against this better-than-I-expected defense. He’ll combine for two touchdowns and a pick.
• Justin Tucker gets a chance to win one this week. He delivers.
Ravens 27 Bengals 24
Through four weeks of the season, the Ravens are 2-2 and have only trailed for 14 seconds total in those losses. That’s an astounding stat when you think about it.
Cinci started off slow, as Burrow was struggling getting back into things after the appendectomy during training camp. But they have righted the ship and have won two games in a row.
This may be the biggest game of the year for the Ravens. Division opponent, who beat the hell out of you last year and you are at home on a Sunday Night.
I’m going to guess that Houston will be out, which will hurt the pass rush although the Cinci line has been an issue despite the offseason acquisitions.
I’m also going to guess that Rashod Bateman and Justice Hill are out too, which is tough for the offense but I think Ronnie Stanley will be back and Dobbins should be able to handle the ball even more this week.
This is a game the Ravens really need, in my opinion. If they lose this one, we could really start to see some changes and things could fall apart. Of course, maybe that’s exactly what they need: changes.
I’m going to say they win but have very little confidence in the prediction.
Ravens 27 Cinci 24
Remember the late aught/early 10’s Ravens, which were built by Ozzie Newsome basically to specifically match up well with, and beat, the Pittsburgh Steelers? Despite what your favorite Sunday pre-game show would have you believe, the Steelers are no longer the bullies on the block. It’s instead the Cincinnati Bengals, who shocked the football world and won the Lamar Hunt Trophy in 2021, and along the way put up something like 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns through the air against the Ravens (if I’m exaggerating, it ain’t by much).
Eric DeCosta accepted the challenge and fortified his secondary in the hopes of avoiding such embarrassment ever again, signing free agent Marcus Williams and drafting Kyle Hamilton 14th overall. There have certainly been some growing pains through the first few weeks, as evidenced by the fact that the Ravens are again dead last in pass defense*. Those of you who play fantasy football know that all those “experts” are predicting a 2021-like day at the office for Burrow, Chase, Boyd, Higgins, & Co.
I disagree though. I think this is the week this secondary finally puts their collective foot down, shows some pride, and rises up.
• Burrow throws for 215 yards, two touchdowns (Chase & Hurst), and two picks (Williams & Peters).
• Jackson matches Burrow’s two touchdowns throwing, and doesn’t turn it over. He racks up 230 air yards and 55 on the ground.
• Dobbins scores from 20+ out, showing that he is totally back.
• When I was the only RSR guy to pick against the Ravens in New England, it worked out. So I’ll fall on the sword again…let’s say the lack of a pass rush becomes a problem again, as Burrow drives into Evan McPherson range in the final moments.
Bengals 26 Ravens 24
The Ravens have blown two double-digit leads and are now 2-2. The Bengals have righted the ship after their 0-2 start. Now there is a three-team logjam in the AFC North and the Cleveland Browns technically have the division lead. With this pressure in mind, we have to see if the real Baltimore Ravens will stand up in a put-up or shut-up game.
I think the Ravens will respond. I think you’ll see Lamar Jackson and the offense reclaim the groove that made them such a high-scoring team in the first three games of the season. This is going to be a big Mark Andrews night. Don’t forget that the last time these two teams faced, Andrews had eight receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals didn’t have an answer for Andrews last season, it was just lost in the fact that a hobbled Ravens team had no answer for Joe Burrow and got demolished. In a fair fight, Andrews can make a huge difference for the Ravens.
The Ravens have looked dominant at times in every game they’ve played this season. The catch is that they haven’t always kept their foot on the gas pedal. I think the Ravens will go into this game angry and eager for revenge. They’re going to get off to a fast start and get ahead. I think you’re going to see the Ravens put in their most complete performance of the season. This is a statement game under the lights. Put me down for a Ravens win.
Here are some bold predictions:
• Andrews has eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns
• Jackson rushes for over 100 yards.
• Both Marcuses will have an interception (Peters and Williams)
• Odafe Oweh‘s pass rush will come alive with two sacks on Burrow
Ravens 35 Bengals 20
I thought about just doing the picture as my only reaction to this game, but I can’t cop out like that. Let’s all take some deep breaths to control the blood pressure and brace ourselves.
• The Ravens pass-rushers, who have struggled to disrupt opposing offenses, have their first game recording over three sacks. They notch five sacks, one of which forces a fumble and sets up a short field for Baltimore.
• Lamar continues the trend of average passing yardage yielding high results, as he records three passing touchdowns on the day. One goes to JK near the goal line as his revenge tour continues.
• The defense schemes to make sure they don’t get bludgeoned by Ja’Marr Chase the way they did last year, and Peters and Humphrey do a good job locking down Chase and Tyler Boyd. Tee Higgins out-gains them both.
It’ll be a nail-biter again, I fear, but these guys show up for prime time.
Ravens 27 Bengals 20
There is so much to say about this matchup. To say the Ravens need this win would be an understatement. If they can get through this rough stretch of games 3-2, and get this win over a opponent that still haunts them, that would build up so much confidence that can lead a team into a soft stretch of the schedule. If they can’t, more and more questions about this team will be raised and the finger pointing will continue. The Ravens need this win, but how they respond to adversity will determine the result. The Bengals offense doesn’t look good right now and Zac Taylor is looking like a fraud. The Bengals defense looks alright but they are hurt right now. The Ravens are going to have their hands full and they need this win. No excuses.
• The Ravens rushing attack has a good day with over 100 yards.
• The Ravens pass rush will get home more than enough times against a bad O-Line.
• Ronnie Stanley makes his debut.
• The Bengals offense struggles early but the talent will take over – however, it’ll be too little too late for them.
Ravens 35 Bengals 27
The Ravens will be entering this game with no lack of motivation. Between Burrow’s comments about the Ravens this off-season as well as the their trio of wide receivers, I’m sure this game was circled. To add more fuel to the fire the two epic collapses this season already in only four games has to be stinging badly.
– Joe Burrow will only throw for 250 yards this time with 3 touchdowns.
– Ja’Marr Chase will have 100 yards and two touchdowns.
-Lamar Jackson will throw for 200 yards and run for another 100 yards. He will also have 3 touchdown passes.
-J.K Dobbins will rush for a touchdown.
– Mark Andrews, Demarcus Robinson and Devin Duvernay will all receive touchdown passes.
– JPP will record his first sack as a Raven.
Ravens 28 Bengals 24