Sports activities Mole previews Monday’s NFL conflict between Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens, together with predictions, group information and doable lineups.
Cincinnati have gained eight in a row, capturing the AFC North for a second successive marketing campaign, because of a 27-16 victory in opposition to the Ravens final weekend, the third defeat within the final 4 video games for Baltimore.
Since shedding the Tremendous Bowl in such heartbreaking style a season in the past, Zac Taylor‘s crew have been chomping on the bits to get again to the large recreation and end the job.
Now could be the place the season actually begins, and Cincy come into this encounter on fairly the roll, scoring over 20 factors in each recreation on their present successful streak.
The Bengals had been a power to be reckoned with offensively in 2022-23, averaging the seventh-most points-per-game (26.1) whereas placing up the fifth-most yards-per-contest by way of the air (265) and a 101.0 score.
These numbers are fairly spectacular, however while you add to that the actual fact they completed tied for fifth in points-per-game allowed defensively (20.1) and had been the Tenth-best purple zone defence within the league, it’s no marvel they’re trying like a Tremendous Bowl contender as soon as once more.
One space that has seen drastic enchancment over the course of this marketing campaign is their blocking, with two or fewer sacks taken over their earlier eight outings, one thing which was a major hassle spot for Cincinnati by way of the course of the playoffs a season in the past.
The Bengals solely misplaced one dwelling recreation in opposition to their very own division this season, and that got here of their opener when the Pittsburgh Steelers bested them in additional time, 23-20.
Baltimore stumbled their method into the postseason with a sputtering offence, failing to attain greater than 17 factors of their earlier six video games.
John Harbaugh has his defence to thank for making the playoffs this time round, as that unit allowed the third-lowest common factors per recreation over this marketing campaign (18.6).
With their star quarterback on the shelf for the ultimate 5 contests of the yr and his standing up within the air on Sunday, Harbaugh has turned to the working recreation to assist them expend the clock, and for essentially the most half they’ve delivered because the Ravens rushed for over 100 yards in all however one recreation all season.
They held huge receivers to a sub-90 score, giving up only one landing cross versus the Bengals in every contest.
That’s an achievement when you think about the sort of depth that the Bengals possess within the cross catching division.
One other feather of their cap could be how properly they performed the Bengals on third downs final weekend, solely permitting 5 of the 15 in opposition to them to be transformed.
Baltimore have only one victory of their final 4 playoff affairs since 2018, although they managed to win their earlier Wild Card encounter away from dwelling, defeating the Tennessee Titans 20-13 at Nissan Stadium in the course of the 2020 marketing campaign.
Cincinnati Bengals NFL kind:
Baltimore Ravens NFL kind:
Joe Burrow threw for 4,475 yards this season, together with 35 touchdowns, whereas he had in all probability the best-receiving trio within the recreation as Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins every had 1,000-yard campaigns, whereas Tyler Boyd put 762 yards on 58 receptions.
Joe Mixon struggled to get a lot occurring the bottom in 2022-23, averaging simply 3.9 yards per carry, although he discovered the top zone in opposition to the Ravens final week, whereas Mike Hilton and Jessie Bates every had an interception and Trey Hendrickson posted a pair of sacks.
Anthony Brown was behind centre for the Ravens final week, tossing two interceptions, Kenyan Drake had their solely landing on the bottom, Sammy Watkins caught two passes for 79 yards, whereas Isaiah Likely led Baltimore with eight catches for 103 yards.
Roquan Smith, who lately signed a contract extension with the Ravens, was third within the NFL this season for tackles (169), managing 12 in opposition to the Bengals final week, David Ojabo picked up their lone sack, whereas Patrick Queen made an interception after they defeated Cincinnati in October.
The well being of Lamar Jackson might be pivotal to the Ravens probabilities this weekend with their star QB nonetheless questionable due to a knee harm, Tylan Wallace is coping with a sore hamstring, whereas Trystan Colon and Brandon Stephens are each sick.
Head To Head
Baltimore maintain a slight 28-26 edge total versus Cincinnati, although the Bengals got here away with a 27-17 victory at dwelling final weekend as Evan McPherson kicked a pair of discipline objectives, and Joseph Ossai recovered a fumble in the long run zone, serving to the Bengals triumph 27-16.
It has been over a yr because the Ravens gained a recreation in Cincinnati, again in Week 17 of the 2020 marketing campaign when Marquise Brown had two landing catches, and JK Dobbins ran for 2 as Baltimore romped to a simple 38-3 win.
We are saying: Cincinnati Bengals 24-20 Baltimore Ravens
It could not shock us to see the Baltimore defence shut down that Bengals offence for some time, though they may discover it difficult to get something going themselves offensively, notably given their lack of receiving depth.
Finally, we consider there are too many weapons for Baltimore to deal with, and Burrow ought to have the ability to seize the alternatives when they’re introduced.
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