When and where: October 13, 2019, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD, 1:00 PM ET
The winless Cincinnati Bengals go on the road for an AFC North divisional showdown with the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Injuries and incompetence have destroyed the Bengals’ playoff hopes in the first five weeks of the season. Even after moving on from former head coach Marvin Lewis, the stench of losing still sticks to them like a bad cologne. Perhaps it’s time to pull the cord and start over from scratch entirely.
After losing to the Arizona Cardinals, they’ll try their luck against the struggling Ravens, who were fortunate to leave with a win over the Mason Rudolph-led Pittsburgh Steelers. There are some serious concerns relating to the Ravens’ chances of contending for a championship this year. They may not even make the playoffs.
Who is to blame in Cincinnati?Former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was never the answer in Cincinnati, and he clearly wasn’t the only problem, either. The Bengals have yet to even win a game without him on the sidelines. No, that doesn’t mean the team was better off with him as the coach. I shouldn’t have to remind you of the 16 seasons of mediocrity Bengals fans were subjected to in the Lewis era.
Injuries have been a big problem for the Bengals this year with star receiver A.J. Green being unavailable and John Ross recently going on injured reserve. The team has also been plagued by inconsistent play on the offensive front, which has allowed quarterback Andy Dalton to get sacked for a third-worst 20 times in the first five games of the season.
So you can expect Ravens coach John Harbaugh to dial up ways to bring pressure in the pocket. This isn’t the Boogeyman Ravens defense like past teams, but they have the talent to make it a long day for the Bengals offense. Sunday might be a tough day for Bengals running back Joe Mixon running against a legitimate top-10 rushing defense. Mixon is a good tailback with some upside, but he also isn’t Browns running back Nick Chubb, who ran all over the Ravens defense. That heaps even more pressure on Dalton to throw against a Ravens secondary that has struggled in recent weeks.
The Bengals’ defense has been absolutely atrocious against the run and pass, leaving for a scenario for fans to hold their collective breath every time Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has the ball in his hands. Their ability to contain Jackson and make him deliver accurate throws from the pocket will be the difference between winning and losing. It’s also something we haven’t seen the unit prove it’s capable of doing all season.
Has the Lamar Jackson Show been exposed?Earlier in the season, fans seemed eager to crown Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson as one of the best up-and-coming playmakers in the league. Never mind the fact that he was running up and down the field against bad defenses in the Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals and Kansas City Chiefs. However, the struggles started the moment he ran into decent defenses.
In his last couple games against the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers, he has thrown a total of five interceptions. His accuracy and decision-making in the pocket is being exposed, and teams are going to continue to try to take advantage when he’s behind center. Granted, he’s a 22-year-old player flashing unbelievable talent at times, and he’ll continue to improve as he settles into the pro-style offense.
But it does lay out a good blueprint for the Bengals to focus their defensive efforts in slowing down the run and making Jackson beat them with his arm. That’s obviously easier said than done considering they’re one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the league. Speaking of defense, the days of imposing fear in opposing offenses is over for the Ravens. They are giving up an average of 280.0 passing yards per game, which ranks as the fourth-worst in the league. Cornerback Jimmy Smith being out with an injury isn’t helping matters, either.
The offense could also be without standout rookie receiver Marquise "Hollywood” Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. Both are listed as questionable on the injury report for Sunday’s game.
Update: Brown and starting inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor are considered game-time decisions for Sunday. Onwuasor has missed practice all week along with Brown.
- Bengals are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games on field turf.
- Bengals are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 6.
- Bengals are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games in October.
- Ravens are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating less than 150 yards passing in their previous game.