The circumstances surrounding the battle between these two teams are very different now, from the first time they met. Baltimore has lost three games in a row and are reeling, while the Bengals come in off a 37-point blowout loss against the Saints. With AJ Green not available, their offense doesn’t look as good.
And for Baltimore, rookie Lamar Jackson gets to make his first NFL start today in a high-stakes game. Here we go.
Offensively, the Bengals have looked solid, as come in ranked #11 in points per game, but the defensive side has been a struggle. They allowed 51 points to New Orleans last week, and they are allowing 32 points per game. They fired Teryl Austin and are hoping that they can fix the problems with a new voice. Andy Dalton has really cooled off from his hot start, and without AJ Green to throw to he looked very lost. When he has been hurt, the team has looked horrendous in comparison to when he plays in past years. They need him badly.
Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins have combined for 13 sacks and put a lot of pressure on opposing QB’s. They are going to have to make the right reads on Lamar Jackson to prevent him from taking off and bolting. They’ve picked off 10 passes this year and will need to get their hands into the passing lanes and look to force turnovers.
This is the debut of Lamar Jackson, who has thrown the ball only 12 times this season, completing seven of them for a TD. He has run the ball 28 times for 139 yards and ranks as the team’s second-leading rusher. So, after his amazing career at Louisville, he gets a chance to show what he has in the NFL, while Flacco recovers. One thing that has to be better today is Alex Collins and the ground game. If they aren’t running the ball well, they won’t be able to create open running lanes, and play-action passes for Lamar.
This defense looked promising early in the year but has dropped off tremendously. It’s been weeks since they’ve forced a turnover, and the sack count has really dipped since the big day against the Titans. This is a very talented defensive bunch that has a lot to improve upon. They also really need John Brown to make some big plays with his hands, because this team is at their best when the deep ball is working.
Lamar gets the W, Ravens get back to .500
Chalk this one up as a win for the Ravens. They will cover the 6.5-point spread which they are favored by. They badly need this, and they’ll put on for the city and for their coach, who they do not want do leave. This loss from Cincinnati could FINALLY put Marvin Lewis on the hot seat, many years too late.
Free Pick: Ravens – 6.5
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