Ravens Win Over Steelers Gives Bengals Opportunity
A Ravens victory has given the Bengals the opportunity to earn an early season divisional lead. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
When the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night, 26-6, it gave the Bengals a unique early season opportunity. It was a convincing win for the Ravens as they thoroughly outplayed their divisional rivals. Joe Flacco was able to sit back comfortably and pick apart the Steelers’ defense with timely, accurate passes that moved the chains and put points on the board. The Steelers continued to struggle with penalties while they committed costly turnovers.
Le’Veon Bell had yet another effective game running the football, but because the Steelers got so far behind, he wasn’t able to get enough touches to really effect the game. The Ravens simply dominated the Steelers, who should now consider themselves lucky for having come away from the Browns game with a win that nearly slipped away. Following the game, both the Ravens and Steelers stand at 1-1 while the Browns, who are currently 0-1, have a difficult match-up this weekend when they face off against the Saints in Cleveland; the Saints will be hungry for a win after dropping their first game versus the Falcons.
Heading into the weekend, the Bengals now have the opportunity to grab hold of a lone divisional lead early in the year. Although the Bengals will face a tough opponent in the Atlanta Falcons, they’ll be doing so at home where the Bengals carry a current home, regular season win streak of nine games. The Bengals will need to learn on they run game while they attempt to keep Matt Ryan and the Falcons potent offense off the field and off the scoreboard. The secondary will need to be solid after Matt Ryan set a Falcons single-game record last week by throwing for 448 yards in the game. But the Bengals defense retained many of the defensive pieces it relied upon after finishing third in the league last year in total defense, so they certainly possess the necessary talent to stop the Falcons attack.
If the Bengals do in fact win the game, they’ll face the Tennessee Titans in week three. The Titans looked good in week one, albeit against the lowly-looking Kansas City Chiefs. The Titans will face the Cowboys in week two, who also looked pretty lowly in week one, so the Bengals could be the first test of the season for the Titans. The Bengals will likely be favored to win that game as it’ll be played at Paul Brown stadium. The Bengals have an early season bye in week four and things will get easier after that as the team may get back wide receiver Marvin Jones and running back Rex Burkhead who are suffering from a foot and knee injury respectively.
The Ravens beating the Steelers last night was the best result for the Bengals. If the team can continue to find success at home over the next two weeks, the Bengals could find themselves with an early outright divisional lead putting themselves in solid position to repeat as AFC North champions while earning a fourth consecutive playoff appearance.