Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals Week 10: 5 Key Matchups
Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are first and second in the AFC North? The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers are third and fourth? In the words of the great Vince Lombardi, "What the hell's going on out here?"
The Ravens will try to do their part to bring balance back to the force when they host the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday, as they attempt to claw their way back into the division race. This is the first of two games between the rivals, as the Ravens will travel to Cincinnati for the final game of the regular season. If the Ravens hope to be back in playoff contention by then, this is a must win, and could keep the division title in play when the two teams square off again in late December.
Before the Ravens can start thinking of division titles, they first have to get the feeling of winning back in their system, as it has been over a month since their last victory. Baltimore will ride on Joe Flacco's right arm, as Ray Rice has been grounded for the entirety of the season. Meanwhile, the defense will have to contend with burners Giovani Bernard and A.J. Green.
Click along to find out which matchups must be won if the Ravens hope to be victorious on Sunday and climb back into the division race.
RB Giovani Bernard vs. LB Daryl Smith
Gio Bernard has been an absolute game breaker this season, and has to the front runner in the Offensive Rookie of the Year race. It will take a team defensive effort to stop the explosive back, but Smith has been the Ravens' best playmaker in the middle of the field and will have the first crack at tracking Bernard. Whether Bernard comes out of the back field or catches a little flip pass, he is always a threat to turn the corner and turn it into a footrace to the end zone.
WR AJ Green vs. CB Lardarius Webb
At this point, A.J. Green's status as one of the game's best receivers is solidified. He has reached the upper pantheon of players who you cannot expect to stop, but instead hope to limit his effectiveness so he does not beat you by himself. The unenviable task will fall to Webb, who has been burned by a number of top wideouts this year in his return from ACL surgery.
LT Andre Whitworth vs. OLB Terrell Suggs
At this stage, every loss the Ravens suffer makes the next game the most important of the season. Against the division-leading Bengals, that makes this game the biggest of the year, and you can expect Terrell Suggs to play like it.
Suggs will try to bring Dalton early to set the tone, just as he did last week against the Browns on the first snap of the game. With nine sacks in eight games, Suggs is on pace for one of his best seasons and will try to rack up the big plays in this grudge match.
Ravens’ Blockers vs. MLB Vontaze Burfict
Hey, remember that time when Burfict was deemed too slow and too emotionally unstable to be drafted by a single team in the NFL? Well, he is currently the league's leading tackler. Yeah, I think he remembers.
Burfict's damage must be limited for the Ravens to have any offense from the running game or in the underneath passing game. To accomplish that, it will take all the blockers working as one, as the under-performing unit cannot afford any more blown assignments, or they will find Burfict all over their ball carriers.
WR Marlon Brown vs. CB Terrence Newman
The book is out on Torrey Smith and the Ravens' offense, and it is no surprise that the Ravens' three-game losing streak has coincided with the speedster's worst statistical three-game stretch of the season. In order to get Smith and the offense back on track, someone will have to step up and make some plays underneath. The undrafted Brown has shown flashes of being that guy, and the team needs him to step up if they are going to get a full day out of the explosive Smith.