Bengals vs. Ravens: Three Matchups to Watch
Sep 20, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Like last week, Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins could be huge difference-makers along the defensive line. But rather than facing an uneasy Chargers line, these two defensive linemen will face one of the NFL’s best O-lines. This game against Baltimore is a test for Dunlap and Atkins as much as it is for Dalton; these two guys were some of the streakiest D-linemen in the NFL last season, so a big game from Atkins and Dunlap on Sunday could prove that this Bengals defensive line is for real.
Dunlap and Atkins have both recorded at least a sack in each of Cincinnati’s first two matchups, so continuing that streak in Week 3 could be huge for a Bengals line that had the least sacks of any D-line in football throughout the 2014 season.
Sep 20, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap (96) sacks San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-19. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
A week after blowing by a backup guard all game long, Geno Atkins will now match up with Marshal Yanda, an All-Pro right guard who is widely considered the best guard in football. Meanwhile, Carlos Dunlap will match up with Ricky Wagner, Baltimore’s right tackle. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will likely try to target Wagner when dialing up pressure on passing downs, stunting Atkins outside or letting Dunlap do his thing while facing Wagner one-on-one. Guenther also may try to send heat at the Ravens’ center, Jeremy Zuttah, who is the weakest link on Baltimore’s line. Atkins may stunt over to the middle or simply line up as the RDT and take advantage of that matchup on occasion, so keep an eye out for that.
The bottom line: Cincinnati needs to disrupt the Ravens’ offense on Sunday. If Joe Flacco doesn’t have time to throw, he’s going to turn the ball over–and if Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap can consistently pressure Flacco, we’ll be certain that the Bengals’ line is the real deal.
If Cincinnati can see production from Dalton, Green, Hill, Bernard, Atkins and Dunlap, we could be in for a good game and a great season. Here’s to hoping for these guys to step up this week and for the rest of 2015!