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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Ty’s Take: Bengals vs Ravens

Ty’s Take: Bengals vs Ravens

Publish Date: 09/16/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The Cincinnati Bengals lost their season opener to the Cleveland Browns by a score of 24-3, and man was it ugly. Disappointment would be the first word to come to mind when describing this game. After listening to post-game interviews, no one felt worse about this performance than the players themselves. Now, the Ravens come to town for another divisional rival game, giving the Bengals a chance to redeem themselves.

The Ravens entered this game 1-0 as they defeated the Houston Texans. 25-9 last week. They did bring home the win but with casualties. Running back J.K. Dobbins, safety Marcus Williams, left tackle Ronnie Stanley, and Tyler Linderbaum all left with injuries of varying severities.

So what kind of game should fans expect on Sunday at 1 p.m.? That depends on how well the Ravens’ backups perform while the Bengals search to improve from last week’s errors.

Prediction: Bet Cincinnati -3
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Joe Burrow has to bring his A-game against the Ravens as the offensive line looks to communicate. 

Against the Browns, quarterback Joe Burrow had the worst game of his professional career. Going 14-of-31 for 82 passing yards and no touchdowns is not how you want to end a game. His passing yards and passer rating were both career lows. The good news for fans is this is uncharacteristic of Burrow’s play. I look for him to do what he always does after a lousy performance: come out swinging.

If Burrow is to get into his rhythm early, he will need his offensive line to play much better. There needed to be more communication within the trenches last week, and it will need to be fixed if the offense plans on moving the ball. Coach Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan’s key focus should be picking up more third downs.

The Bengals line did face one of the best defensive fronts in all of the NFL with the Browns. There will be no Myles Garrett or Za’Darius Smith, but instead, David Ojabo, Justin Madubuike, and Jadeveon Clowney, although good players, not quite difference-makers. The Stripes line should create a better pocket for Burrow this week.

Don’t be surprised if the Bengals passing game is taken to another level.          

Burrow will need to connect to his very talented trio of receivers. Tee Higgins was targeted eight times against the Browns and did not have a catch. Whether he missed the pass or Burrow misplaced the ball, this is undoubtedly uncharacteristic of a Higgins performance. Usually, one of the most consistent players on the field looks for him to rebound to make big plays in front of the home crowd.

The Raven’s secondary is banged up with safety Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Williams out; this would be the perfect opportunity for the Bengals to stretch the field. With another week of practice with Burrow, Higgins, Chase, and Boyd should move the chains.

The Raven’s Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen will want to bring lots of pressure.

Raven’s defense coordinator, Mike Macdonald, will want to bring lots of pressure using his talented linebackers Smith and Queen. Both linebackers were dominant last week against the Texans. Smith had 16 tackles, a sack, and two tackles for loss, while Queen had 11 tackles, a sack, and a pass breakup. The Bengals must account for those two when picking up blitzes and helping Burrow avoid the pressure.

Can the Bengals find their running game while Irv Smith Jr. makes more of an impact?

The Bengals should focus on their running game early. Joe Mixon ran the ball hard last week, averaging 4.3 yards a carry. He seemed like his old self, exploding through the hole with power and confidence. The coaching staff may even lean on the running game more if they feel Burrow is still not quite himself.

The rookie running back Chase Brown was inactive last week, so it will be interesting to see if he makes the lineup this week. Brown showed off some of his abilities during the preseason by making players miss and a willingness to pick up blockers. Chris Evans showed up on the injury report with a hamstring injury; if he can’t go, look for Brown and Trayveon Williams to make up the rest of the Bengals running game.

Burrow must be able to count on his tight end, Irv Smith Jr., a little more this week. He can help in pressure situations and needs to play more of a role.

Will the Bengals take advantage of the injuries on Raven’s offensive side of the ball?

The Raven’s offensive line did not play well against the Texans. Talk about having bad luck; Baltimore lost two starting offensive linemen, tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum. If the Ravens have to shuffle around backup linemen, this could be a considerable advantage for Bengal’s pressure specialist DJ Reader and Trey Hendrickson.

Add in that the Ravens had 13 penalties against Texans, and this could present a problem as this new Ravens offensive line finds themselves under pressure. All indications point to Joseph Ossai returning for the Bengals, giving Hubbard a much-needed break at defensive end. Ossai brings speed and a relentless pursuit from the outside.

Lamar Jackson will have his top weapon back in Mark Andrews.

Raven’s quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is always a threat when he controls the offense. He is 6-1 when playing against the Bengals. If not contained, Jackson can hurt you with his legs. He had 38 rushing yards last week and likes to take off if he sees any hole. Jackson will also have his top weapon, tight end Mark Andrews, back, as he did not play in the opener for the Ravens.

Together, Jackson and Andrews are the difference makers on this offense. Bengal linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt have the experience and familiarity with Jackson to reduce some of the potential big plays. If that were not challenging enough, Wilson and Pratt would also be responsible for Andrews, who can hurt you, especially in crucial 3rd down situations.

The Hill brothers find themself on the field together with more prominent roles. 

Ravens lost their starting running back, J.K. Dobbins when he unfortunately suffered a season-ending torn Achilles injury. Offensive coordinator Todd Moneken will look for Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to carry the load as Dobbins’s replacement.

Justice, the brother of Bengals safety Dax Hill, will have the opportunity to play against his brother. This meeting will not be the first time these two have met on the gridiron, but with Justice moving up the running back role and his brother starting this year, they will see more action against each other on the field. This faceoff will be something to watch, as both brothers are very competitive.

The Bengal’s secondary faces another week of outstanding receivers

When Jackson is not looking to run, he has a much better receiving corps to rely on this season. Whether it was free agency with Odell Beckham or a first-round pick this year, Zay Flowers, the Ravens give Jackson plenty of options to throw to. This receiving group is good with outside receivers Beckham, Rashod Bateman, and young Flowers.

Bengals veteran slot cornerback Mike Hilton will have his hands full as he contains Flowers. The rookie wideout receiver recorded nine receptions on 10 targets for 78 yards. He led the team in receptions, yards, and targets. I am sure the Ravens are looking for more ways to get him the ball, as he is explosive and dynamic when he catches the ball.

Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, knows they cannot underestimate Lamar Jackson’s passing abilities. Luckily for Cincinnati, they boast one of the best defensive secondaries in the league. Veteran Chidobe Awuzie played very well last week after returning from a season-ending injury. Cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt also showed his abilities by making crucial pass-blocking plays against the Browns.

Safety tandem Hill and veteran Nick Scott eased Bengal fans as they played exceptionally well against the Browns. Scott led the team along with linebacker Pratt with the most tackles.

This matchup features two of the best kickers in the NFL.

Believe me when I say field position matters. The Ravens have veteran Justin Tucker, while the Bengals have Evan McPherson. These kickers can make long kicks and have proven accurate when given the chance. That means once a team crosses the 50-yard line, they have the potential to put points up on the board. It will be exciting as these two work their magic.

Speaking of special teams, the Bengals must watch kick returner Devin Duvernay closely. McPherson should focus on kicking the ball out of the end zone rather than giving Duvernay opportunities to return kickoffs.

Video: Breaking Down the Lamar Jackson vs. Joe Burrow Matchup

Breaking Down the Lamar Jackson vs. Joe Burrow Matchup

Final Thoughts

The Bengals need to improve their third-down completions while the offense looks for better ways to move the ball downfield. They must rely on something other than the defense bailing them out. Keeping Jackson off the field as much as possible will undoubtedly be a significant factor in this matchup.

The Bengals are the healthier team coming into this game and want to show the rest of the NFL that they are a much better team than their performance in game one. Look for Burrow to have that bounce-back game like in previous years.

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