The Cincinnati Bengals are set to host the Baltimore Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. This is a rematch of Week 18 where the Bengals outlasted their divisional foe but the Ravens sat a lot of players out in that game so it's hard to tell just how good this Baltimore team could be.
To get more insight on the Ravens, I reached out to Kristen Wong, the site expert over at Ebony Bird, FanSided's site devoted to all things Baltimore Ravens. Here's my Q&A with Kristen.
Q: The Ravens are reportedly planning to go with a dual-QB approach. Is this something you could see working out better for the offense or is it just a smokescreen to throw the Bengals off?
A: If there’s ever a time for offensive coordinator Greg Roman to dig into the vault, it’s right now. The Ravens’ offense has come to a screeching halt with Lamar Jackson still injured, and their red zone production in particular ranks as one of the worst in the league (they’ve averaged 15.3 points per game and one touchdown per game in the last three games).
I really don’t think the offense can get any worse, so I suppose it’s a bit of both: the dual-QB approach could end up working very well tonight if Roman finds a way to maximize both Huntley’s and Brown’s strengths, and the Ravens also want to throw Lou Anarumo off guard.
Lamar Jackson isn't playing. Was this strictly injury-based or do you think he didn't want to risk getting further injured ahead of free agency?
Let’s be clear: Jackson’s absence is strictly injury-related. As far as I can tell, Jackson remains the franchise quarterback for the Ravens, and the team is set on reaching a mutual agreement with him this offseason.
Based on various reports (NFL’s Jim Trotter has an excellent take), Jackson doesn’t seem like the type to hold out in this scenario. Many people aren’t realizing just how serious his PCL sprain is, and besides, even if he did get re-injured, he still holds most of the leverage in future negotiations.
Aside from Joe Burrow, who is a player (or who are some players) that you could see giving the Ravens problems on Sunday?
Can I just say the entire Bengals’ offense? Okay, I’ll narrow it down: Ja’Marr Chase is the obvious one, as Ravens fans probably still remember when Chase torched us for 200 yards in the 2021 season.
On the defensive side, Trey Hendrickson is a downright scary pass-rusher capable of making a huge impact in this game – I could see him sacking both Huntley and Brown at least once.
Who from the Ravens' offense (aside from the QBs) needs to have a big game to keep Baltimore in this one?
J.K. Dobbins. Baltimore’s run game will have to make up for the passing attack’s glaring shortcomings, and Dobbins – along with a fully healthy Gus Edwards – needs to feast tonight.
What is the biggest strength on the Ravens' roster?
The inside linebackers, Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen, are the real deal. The Bengals were complaining about Smith’s “dirty” antics in Week 18, but at the heart of it, he’s just an uber-competitive, fierce, and hungry defender. Smith and Queen should be able to rattle some players and try to sway the momentum of the game in the Ravens’ favor.
What is the biggest weakness on the Ravens' roster?
The quarterback position. Let’s hope two is better than one.
Fill in the blank: The Ravens will win this game if ____
The Ravens will win this game if they force multiple turnovers. Preferably a pick-six and maybe a big special teams play.
Who wins? Give us a final score prediction.
The Ravens will fight until the very end, but this one is going to the Bengals unfortunately. Baltimore just doesn’t have the offensive firepower to match their well-oiled AFC North rivals – seeing the team put up 20-plus points (which they’ll have to do to win) just feels impossible. Bengals win 24-17.
Thanks again to Kristen Wong for taking the time to chat with us ahead of Bengals vs Ravens!