1. Lamar Jackson
Finally, but certainly not least, one of the Ravens who could give the Bengals trouble in Week 2 is quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Cincinnati’s defense had some success against Jackson in Week 5 of the 2022 season, limiting him to a 59.38% completion percentage, 174 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Against a quarterback with more than his fair share of highlight runs against them, the Bengals defense held him to 58 yards on 12 rushing attempts in their only matchup against the elusive quarterback last season.
In his first game of the 2023 season, Jackson attempted 22 passes, completing 17 for 169 yards. The Texans were able to force one interception and prevent any touchdown passes.
Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, knows they cannot underestimate Lamar Jackson’s passing abilities. In 2021, he put up 257 yards and one touchdown against the Bengals. In 2019, Jackson had a rare perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 in a game in which he threw 17 times, completing 15 for 223 yards and three touchdowns on 88.24%.
Nevertheless, Jackson’s running abilities must be accounted for, especially when facing the Bengals. In 2022, Lamar Jackson ran 33 times on third down, converting 21 into first downs. He did most of his damage with his legs on first downs last season when he rushed 46 times for 290 yards.
Jackson always presents a challenge for Cincinnati’s defense because of his ability to throw the ball and his threat of scrambling out of the pocket. This is something that Anaumo and his team are accustomed to. Hopefully, they will have a sufficient game plan to counter his running ability and passing capabilities.
It won’t be easy because Jackson has some capable and experienced wide receivers to throw to that the defense must also account for.
The Baltimore Ravens have a lot of talent on offense, defense, and special teams. If the Bengals want to succeed against their AFC North rival, they would be wise to focus on these five players. If not, they could give the Bengals trouble in Week 2.