5 match-ups Bengals need to win in Week 2 vs. Ravens

  • Can the Bengals take advantage of an injury-riddled offensive line?
  • How can they slow down the elusive Lamar Jackson?
  • What's the answer against electric rookie Zay Flowers?
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens / Todd Olszewski/GettyImages
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4. Lamar Jackson vs. Bengals open-field tackling

Lamar Jackson is one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the league with his legs. The J.K. Dobbins injury means that Jackson may be forced to contribute even more in the running game. He was restricted to 38 yards on the ground vs. the Texans. It's something the Bengals would be happy to replicate.

When the Bengals have faced Jackson previously, he ran for 58 yards in 2022 and 88 yards in Week 7 of 2021. Last week, the Browns' Deshaun Watson, less of a threat than Jackson, went for 45 yards. It's an area this defense needs to keep improving on.

That said, the early signs were promising. Germaine Pratt and Nick Scott in particular were alert and fast to close down ball carriers in Week 1. The Ravens will look to clear out the middle of the field with their deep threat receivers and that's when the Bengals linebackers must limit the space Jackson has to grab easy first downs.

3. Zay Flowers vs. Daxton Hill

Ravens first-round selection Zay Flowers had an impressive start to his NFL career against the Texans. The diminutive speedster caught nine of his 10 targets for 78 receiving yards. The Ravens continually used him in motion, looking to find space for him to use his acceleration.

He spent 43.8% of his snaps in the slot and could be deployed similarly to how the Browns used Elijah Moore against the Bengals. If that is the case, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo may select safety Dax Hill to guard him one-on-one rather than starting slot Mike Hilton.

Hilton is best used aggressively coming downhill or matched against tight ends. When Flowers moves into the slot, getting an athletic match like Hill opposite him might be the better option. The Bengals used Hilton as a safety on a couple of snaps last week. Could that number increase to slow Flowers down?