Implications and Weather
There are major playoff implications in Cincinnati today where the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens face off to decide their future in the AFC playoffs. In Cincinnati it looks to be an overcast day with temperatures flirting with freezing, and winds gusting upwards of 25 miles per hour while the Ravens come into town needing a win for a first round bye. Likewise, the Bengals also need a win and in a more desperate fashion. A win would assure them a playoff berth and add a signature win to their resume. Look for the high winds to affect the play calls and the pace of the game.
Two of Baltimore’s key players are doubtful including Wide Receiver Anquan Bolden (knee), who had a touchdown catch against the Bengals in week 11, and Offensive Guard Marshal Yanda (chest) who just made the pro bowl for the Ravens this year. Ray Lewis is back for the Ravens, but he hasn’t looked like himself since returning from his toe injury. An opposing coach commented on Lewis, “It’s obvious that the toe injury hasn’t healed completely and he can’t push off”. The Bengals, on the other hand, have just about everyone back to healthy including AJ Green who the Ravens didn’t see in the two teams last matchup. Backup safety Taylor Mays and backup linebacker Dontay Moch are the only two doubtful Bengals while Carlos Dunlap is listed as questionable. Cincinnati’s health may push them over the top at home.
Raven’s Splits and Trends
The Ravens are a perfect 8-0 at home but this game is a long way from Baltimore. Playing outside of M&T Bank stadium has not been the best of showings from the Ravens squad. Being 3-4 on the road with losses at San Diego, Seattle, Jacksonville and Tennessee the Ravens surprisingly show up to these road games looking flat. Do keep in mind that they have not lost either of their two division road games. Baltimore is also coming of a couple of disappointing performances with a blowout loss at San Diego and a non-convincing win at home against a defeated Browns squad. It will be interesting to see how the Ravens show up in Cincinnati today.
Full Paul Brown
For only the second time in eight home games this year is Paul Brown stadium home to the Cincinnati Bengals sold out. The pressure of this game could bring a loud and excited presence to the game today and Cincinnati could really get behind their surprise playoff contender, the Bengals.
What was done then
This Sunday will be the two team’s second matchup of the season with the Ravens having won the last matchup by a touchdown. The Bengals found themselves down seventeen points early in the fourth quarter but rallied back with a handful of big plays including a midfield touchdown hookup between Andy Dalton and Andre Caldwell to bring the score within 10. On their next possession, Dalton connected to Jermaine Gresham for what seemed to be a touchdown completion but was reversed due to a controversial rule. That play directly led to a Cincinnati field goal instead of a touchdown. In the Bengals final possession they were forced to go for a fourth down play in the Ravens red zone, but came up short and that was that.
What needs to be done now
For the Bengals to win they will need to do a couple of Important things to keep the Ravens at bay.
- Limit turnovers – Andy Dalton threw three interceptions in their previous matchup and two of them immediately led to Baltimore touchdowns.
- Capitalize in the red zone… Especially at the goal line – The Bengals only scored on 2 of their 4 red zone opportunities last time, and they have looked awful on goal line scenarios this season. Baltimore is no slouch on those occasions either.
- Ensure possession in the endzone – After Gresham’s non-touchdown play in the previous meeting between the Bengals and Ravens, maybe we learned that a player should have all four limbs firmly grasping the ball for a full minute in the endzone the next time he crosses the pylons. That might be a bit of a stretch…