Five Bengals to Watch vs. The Ravens

5 of 6

Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Jeremy Hill (32) carries the ball during the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 35-7. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Jeremy Hill

Right behind this line will be rookie runner Jeremy Hill (along with second year running back Giovani Bernard).  The Bengals know the dynamic quality that Bernard can bring to this offense, but Bernard is not built to be a bruiser and gain the tough yards.  This is where the Bengals’ new “thunder” can make his biggest impact heading into 2014.  Hill was drafted to take over for veteran bruiser BenJarvus Green-Ellis, and after the team chose to cut Green-Ellis, they have positioned Hill to do just that.

As stated before, the Bengals look to balance their offense this year, but this will prove to be a challenge versus the Ravens.  The Ravens allowed only 3.8 yards/rush last year (good for fourth in the league), so the Bengals will have to put together a total team effort if they hope to conquer such a force.  At the very least, the Bengals will need to be productive enough to keep the Ravens’ defense honest.  Their secondary is clearly their weak spot and the Bengals can ill-afford to allow the Ravens to drop extra defenders into coverage and negate their potential advantage in the passing game.

The offensive line will need to do its part, but Jeremy Hill will need to see the field well on Sunday and grind out the tough yards this offense needs to “move the chains” and control the ball.  If he can do so, he’ll allow Dalton much easier looks at the field while also allowing Hue Jackson to utilize the kinds of plays he hopes to within this balanced offense.  If the Bengals get behind early in this game and Dalton is forced into throwing the ball more often than not, then the Bengals should expect to see themselves in a familiar position while playing in Baltimore.