On Monday night, the Bengals will open up their 2012 season against divisional rival, and possible roadblock to the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens. The Bengals have had moderate success against the Ravens franchise, but have lost their last three meetings, albeit by no more than eight points. In the most recent game, Ravens RB Ray Rice ran for over 190 yards and two touchdown, burying the Bengals. It’s a fresh start and a new season, and the Bengals are hoping to end the current losing streak on their way to a divisional title. Here is my preview of the keys to the game, and a prediction from Vancetradamus.
Ray Rice vs the Bengals font seven: During this three-game losing streak, Rice has rushed for over 350 yards and five TDs. He’s also a receiving threat out of the backfield that must be taken into consideration which makes him a matchup nightmare. The Bengals defensive line is one of the strengths of the team, and will be a huge part of containing Rice. The addition of Jamaal Anderson could pay dividends immediately as he is a solid run stopper from the defensive end position. They will need to maintain the advantage on the edge and keep Rice contained inside, forcing him into the hands of the linebackers. The LBs, especially MLB Rey Maualuga will need to make sound tackles and bring him down. He’s very good at bouncing off defenders, so wrapping him up is a must.
Andy Dalton vs Ed Reed: In the first meeting between the two teams last season, and Dalton’s first shot at Baltimore, he threw three interceptions, one of which was to Reed. The Ravens have a talented secondary outside of Reed, but he is the heart and soul of the unit. Dalton will be throwing to some inexperienced WRs, and the Ravens coaching staff, with Reed, will try to take advantage of this, getting Dalton to make a mistake. And nobody makes a team pay for mistakes like Reed does.