Joe Burrow produced one of his worst games ever in Week 1. Meanwhile, Baltimore enjoyed an easy victory against Houston, but injuries are already starting to pile up for them once more – although tight end Mark Andrews should return shortly; nonetheless, they lost key players at various positions last week.
Last season, it wasn’t until Week 3 against the Jets that Cincinnati’s offense began to look anything resembling what became their dominant performance by season’s end.
Following my analysis of Sunday’s game, I conclude that the Bengals’ issues go deeper than simple errors or standard Week 1 miscues.
Burrow was less-than-impressive in Week 1, missing many throws he typically makes and missing some critical throws that usually get made. While that could just be due to rust, how confident can we be that he will return to his old form in week 2? Burrow had an unfortunate -18.2 CPOE score – something he usually ranks within the top three rankings for.
Burrow succeeded against Baltimore under Wink Martindale, but new defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald made drastic adjustments to how Baltimore plays this year compared to last.
Ravens will find it harder to compete without cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Marcus Williams. Still, they did an outstanding job disrupting Burrow’s timing on isolation routes outside the numbers which have propelled Cincinnati’s offense over the last two seasons.
Week one of Todd Monken’s experiment was not particularly noteworthy.
Lamar Jackson admitted after the game that he felt “rusty”, which makes sense considering he hadn’t played since the midway point of last season. Jackson did grade well from a Completion Percentage Over Expected perspective but his average Depth of Target (aDOT) was only five yards, and his EPA per play rating fell into negative territory due to turnovers and red-zone woes.
A significant highlight for Baltimore was Zay Flowers’ performance as a rookie wide receiver. Now that Dobbins is done, Baltimore needs its receivers – Andrews and Flowers combined with potential contributions from Odell Beckham Jr., should provide enough firepower for its offense to remain productive.
Jackson played at an MVP level in 2022 despite lacking real receiving threats outside of Andrews. Now, with real options and a new coordinator/scheme in place, I expect Baltimore’s performance to improve.
Jackson will face enormous pressure to perform outside of the pocket as both left tackle Ronnie Stanley and center Tyler Linderbaum will not be available to him.
I will go with the Bengals in this one, but it is up in the air. If Burrow looks like he usually does, the Bengals win; if he struggles, the Ravens win. I am going Cincinnati 24 Baltimore 17.
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