We discuss the impending Bengals-Ravens matchup with the site expert at Ebony Bird, who is very confident in the Ravens’ success this week.
In preparation for Thursday night’s game, it would be unfair to only get one perspective. Although this Bengals team looks ready to go, I wanted to get the opponents’ opinion of tonight’s matchup. I talked to Chris Schisler, the site expert for the Ebony Bird, to get a sense of what the Ravens were feeling heading into tonight. Our conversation about the Ravens is below and the other half is on Ebony Bird right now.
Q: How much confidence did a complete thrashing of the Bills give you? Are expectations radically different for this team now?
CS: The Ravens beating the Bills is nothing to get overly excited about. The Bills are a bad team but destroying them to the tune of 47-3 gives Baltimore a lot of confidence. The expectations haven’t changed. This is a team that can win the division and be contenders. The Ravens spent the offseason fixing problems. The Ravens signed three receivers, who all scored a touchdown in the first week. Last year the offense was dreadful, even against bad teams. This is a brand new team with a brand new hope. Speaking of new, defensive coordinator, Don Martindale is making a great impression. The Ravens already had the talent on defense and now they have the right guy calling the plays. After such a productive offseason, this team should go far.
Q: Flacco had a great Week 1, but the Bengals could really get to him. How short is his leash with Lamar Jackson behind him?
CS: The leash is longer than hose on a fire truck. There is no quarterback controversy. Lamar Jackson has made it pretty clear with his play in the preseason that he wasn’t ready. Flacco is coming off a phenomenal game and he probably hasn’t been this healthy since 2014. The biggest concern I have about this game is the Bengals defensive front against the Ravens offensive line. Beating up Flacco is a good way to get a win against the Ravens, but Flacco seems to have an added resolve early into this season. Don’t count on Flacco stumbling. He has weapons now, and the ball is coming out of his hand quickly and refreshingly accurate.
Q: Is Jimmy Smith’s absence a problem for this secondary?
CS: Well, you’d rather have Jimmy Smith against A.J. Green, but it’s not game, set match just because number 22 isn’t there. Brandon Carr got off to a great start to the season. Marlon Humphrey is a superstar in the making and the safety combination is impressive. It’s doubtful that coach Martindale would allow Carr to be alone on an island with Green. Therefore, the Ravens should be fine.
Q: What is this team’s biggest strength, and how does it match up against the Bengals?
CS: The front seven and heck yes, it matches up against the Bengals. The Bengals’ offensive line is a big concern for Cincinnati. The Ravens front seven is going to carve the backfield up like a Thanksgiving turkey. I see a slowed down run game and another three to five sacks coming the Ravens way. The Ravens got five sacks in the season opener last year and the front seven could do more damage this year.
Q: What is this team’s biggest weakness, and can the Bengals take advantage of it?
CS: If the Ravens keep James Hurst at right tackle, that’s probably the Ravens biggest weakness. Hurst struggles with speed off the edge and the Bengals have to test him. A few well timed overload blitzes at the Ravens right tackle could be what the Bengals need to change the game.
Q: Prediction? Who wins and why?
CS: I think the Ravens win this game convincingly. Look, the Ravens are desperate to show that this year is nothing like the years that have come before it. The Ravens are desperate to redeem themselves for their collapse against the Bengals last year. The Ravens are a much better team this season and they are going to prove it. Give me the Ravens, 27-17.
There are a few things I disagree with, but overall, Chris makes some good points. I’m definitely concerned about the O-line – although I don’t the Ravens will get 5+ sacks, it will be a sticking point for the Bengals. The Ravens’ secondary, if they can hold up against the Bengals’ WRs, would be an X-factor, too. Chris has a lot of confidence in his team, as do I.