The upcoming game for the Baltimore Ravens will make or break their season. The Cincinnati Bengals are playing for a first round bye and the Ravens are playing for a Wild Card berth possibility. Andy Dalton will be the determining factor in this game. If the Ravens can put the QB on his back repeatedly, they will walk away victorious.
In the last meeting between the two division rivals, Dalton got sacked five times by the Ravens’ D; three of those were by Elvis Dumervil. It seems very uncharacteristic of the Bengals’ line to let the pass rushers through as they have only allowed their signal caller to be sacked 29 times on the season. However, both the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ravens have managed to bust through and get to “Big Red.” Pittsburgh didn’t get the sacks, but they got the pressures that pushed Dalton out of the pocket which made for some difficult throws that wound up being incompletions. Terrell Suggs and Dumervil have their work cut out for them this Sunday.
Sacking the QB will require a bit of assistance from the Secondary as well. The New England Patriots dismantled the Ravens’ secondary this past Sunday; not by launching deep bombs, but by slicing the defense on intermediate passes. Jimmy Smith will need to press A.J. Green all night and not allow the seven-yard slant that Dalton favors so much. Additionally, I love James Ihedigbo and his bone-rattling hits once the players go up for the catch; however, the players are coming down with the catch, no matter how hard the hit. We need Ihedigbo to play the ball and not look for the big hit. Corey Graham will be depended upon heavily in this game as well; his game has fell off a bit since last season, but he needs to be on point when Marvin Jones steps on the field. Guarding the middle of the field better would eliminate some of the big gains that kept the Patriots’ drives going.
With a disciplined attack from the defense as a whole, the Ravens should be able to make it a difficult day for the Bengals’ QB. I say disciplined because previous games have shown when the Ravens show too much aggression in the pass rush, they have been completely embarrassed on the ground by opposing offense’s draws and screens. As much as the offense is struggling, it is clearly up to the defense and special teams to carry to the Ravens to victory on Sunday.