This right here… this is a big one. As big as as Week 8 games get. Yeah the Ravens lost in Week 1 to this same team. Yeah they looked like shit on their home field. But that doesn’t matter anymore. A lot has changed in 8 weeks. The world is a completely different place. Ebola is everywhere. Bloggers have gotten married. And the Ravens have gotten really good at football and the Bengals haven’t. So there’s that. Win takes us to 6-2 and drops them to 3-3-1. Puts a real dagger in their AFC North hopes. So here are your keys to avenging a Week 1 disaster:
1. Get off to a fast start
A pretty typical goal for a road game. Silence the crowd on the road, build yourself a nice little lead. The reason this is paramount is because it’s exactly what doomed the Ravens earlier this season. That first half of Week 1 was legitimately the worst half of football I’ve ever watched Baltimore play in my life. Everyone was out of sync. They’ve been exactly the opposite in the weeks since, so hopefully that was just a bump in the road to learning this new offense. On the other side, the Bengals were miserable in the first half last week. Started the game in Indianapolis off with 8… EIGHT 3-and-out’s. That’s awful. They’re going to be striding to fix that as well. Shut them down quick, put points on the board, and run the ball right down their throats the rest of the day.
2. Crush Andy Dalton
I said the same thing before Week 1. Andy Dalton is a pussbag. He has no ability to escape the rush and make plays. He has no ability to step up in the pocket when it collapses and make confident throws. He stinks. The problem was we didn’t take him down even once in the loss. Zero sacks. Again, this is another area where we’ve improved drastically. There’s no reason why a foursome of OLB’s like Dumervill, Suggs, McPhee, and Upshaw shouldn’t be racking up 5+ sacks every week. And that’s exactly what they’ve done the last two weeks. If they keep it up this week, the Bengals don’t stand a chance on putting up more than 14. Whittle that down to 7 if AJ Green isn’t around for Dalton to throw prayers up to. Crush the ginger, win the football game.
3. Attack the middle of the field
Here’s where the Bengals have been exposed most the past few weeks. The turning point of their season was that SNF game against New England. Tom Brady picked them apart up the middle of the field, running the ball between the tackles and throwing play-action up the hashes. Since then, Carolina and Indy have done the same against Cincy with great success. We’re going to do the same and then some. We’re going to have no problem running the ball right down their throats. We have the 3rd most rushing yards in the league and they’re the 3rd worst against the rush.With that comes the easy throws up the middle. I love Owen Daniels in this game for that reason, and the Ravens should be able to hang 35+ on em.
4. Red-Zone defense
The Ravens fought and clawed their way back into that Week 1 game, and even took a lead with 5 min left. But they don’t even sniff a win if the defense didn’t play out of their minds in their own territory. Bengals only went into the half up 15-0 after we were able to hold them to 5 field goals. Plainly put, we avoided a bloodbath. I guarantee the Bengals are putting emphasis on punching those balls in and capitalizing on those opportunities. Those opportunities should be few and far between now that the Ravens secondary is finally healthy, but the sentiment remains (and always does). Bull your neck in the red zone.
Let’s rapid fire this one home…
Why you should feel shitty about Sunday’s game: Week 1. That’s it.
Why you should feel great about Sunday’s game: Number 1 in point differential in the league. Number 1 in points allowed defensively. Number 1 in percentage of drives scored on. Number 1 in red zone defense. Forsett is number 1 in YPC. Steve Smith lives for AFC North football. Will Hill should be all-in this week. A healthy Webb. A banged up (or inactive) AJ Green. Eugene Monroe may be back. No way Jacoby Jones goes another week without busting one. An elite quarterback. And as always… Justin Tucker.