The rematch between the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens is here and this time, it's in primetime. The Ravens will host the Bengals for Thursday Night Football this week and both teams are looking to get back on track after losing their Week 10 match-ups.
Had the Bengals managed to take care of business against the Texans, they'd be in a position to take over the top of the AFC North, as the Ravens fell to the Browns on Sunday. Unfortunately, the Bengals couldn't capitalize and now they HAVE to beat the Ravens on Thursday to stand any chance at winning the division for a third straight year.
To get some insight on the Ravens, I spoke with Parker Hurley of Ebony Bird, FanSided's site dedicated to the Baltimore Ravens. Parker and I spoke ahead of the Week 2 match-up and we decided to fire off some questions once again, as the Bengals and Ravens go head-to-head for the second time this season.
Bengals vs. Ravens Week 11 Q&A
Q: What is the biggest difference between the Ravens team that beat the Bengals in Week 2 and the one hosting the Bengals on TNF this week?
Parker: The biggest difference is health. The Ravens were one of the most injury-plagued teams to start the year but have slowly gotten healthy.
On the offensive line, they started Patrick Mekari at left tackle and Sam Mustipher at center. They also were platooning Rock Ya-Sin and Ronald Darby at cornerback. Since then, Tyler Linderbaum has returned and been a huge asset at center.
Both Ronnie Stanley and Marlon Humphrey returned for a few weeks but left against Cleveland with injuries. Lastly, Marcus Williams missed week two and is back, which has pushed Kyle Hamilton into the slot. Geno Stone, who had an interception in week two now leads the NFL and has been so good that they cannot bench him.
Lastly, their edge rush rotation shifted from Jadeveon Clowney, David Ojabo, and Tavius Robinson in week two to Clowney, Odafe Oweh, and Kyle Van Noy. That is an upgrade.
Q: What is the Ravens' biggest strength at this point in the season? What is their biggest weakness?
Parker: Their biggest strength is their defense. Roquan Smith is the leader, Hamilton has been a star in the slot, and between Justin Madubuike and Michael Pierce, they are strong up front. Madubuike has more sacks than Chris Jones this year.
Their biggest weakness is that they turn the ball over at the worst times and they cannot put teams away in the fourth quarter. If you recall, even in week 2 they let the Bengals come back late.
Q: The Ravens are 7-3 because ______.
Parker: Lamar Jackson is a star quarterback, John Harbaugh is a sound coach, and their defense is one of the best in the NFL. When Jackson does not have game-breaking turnovers, the combination of his running, explosive passing, and their defense is enough to suffocate teams.
Q: Who is the Ravens MVP on offense and who is their MVP on defense?
Parker: Lamar Jackson is the MVP, but his star pass catcher Mark Andrews and center Tyler Linderbaum deserve praise. The ascension of Linderbaum in recent weeks has propelled the offense. The best player on defense is Roquan Smith, but as noted, Geno Stone leads the NFL in interceptions and has become a reliable tackler as well.
Q: In one sentence, tell us how Thursday night's game will go.
Parker: The Ravens will lean on the run and ball control and rely on the defense to avoid the explosive passes.
Q: The Ravens win if ______.
Parker: The Baltimore Ravens will win if Lamar Jackson and the offense protects the football.
Q: Give us a score prediction.
Parker: 21-17 Bengals
Thanks again to Parker for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to read his content over at Ebony Bird as we prep for Bengals vs. Ravens on Thursday Night Football!