The Ravens are the team on deck now that Sunday is over. With that in mind here are the three matchups the Ravens need to abuse and the three they need to try and compensate for.
3. Ed Reed vs. Andy Dalton- Dalton has a bad tendency to let balls drift on him and that led to him throwing 4 INTs in his 2 games against the Ravens. Reed was only the recipient of one of those four, but he had 2 more that he should have probably caught. That isn’t a guarantee of more INTs to come but nearly snagging 3 in 2 games definitely bodes well for the Ravens.
2. Ravens CBs vs. anyone not named A.J. Green- Last year Green only played in one of the two games against the Ravens and he only netted 26 total yards in the one game, but don’t let that fool you, Green is still a bomb waiting to go off. That said, if Lardarius Webb can control him when the two are matched up together, the rest of the Ravens corners hold a major and decisive advantage against the Bengals WRs.
3. Torrey Smith/Anquan Boldin vs. The Bengals corners other than Hall- In the offseason the Bengals looked like they might have the best secondary in the league. Now, thanks to a relentless dose of the injury bug, the position group is in shambles. Leon Hall is one of the more under-rated corners in the league but the rest of the bengals are fill ins and backups. Hall will always be on either Smith or Boldin depending on how they are lined up, but the other of the two should have an advantage no matter what the situation. Look for both men to have a big day and Jacoby Jones should make a few plays as well.
***Honorable mention*** Ray Rice vs. Bengas defense- Rice had a tendency to get stuffed in his first few years as a pro against the Bengals, but last year he was an unstoppable force rushing for nearly 200 yards and 4 TDs as well as about 50 receiving yards. Rice looked excellent in limited preseason play, look for him to have a good game.
3. Ravens Run D vs. Bengals OL- This may or may not be a bad matchup. it is extremely difficult to say whether or not the Ravens run D will be up to par this year but one thing is for sure is that the Bengals OL is pretty good. In two games lat year the bengals averaged 112 yards rushing on 27 carries per game. that is about 4 YPC which isn’t through the roof but it is higher than the Ravens would like. this year the Bengals RBs and OL is improved and the Ravens run D lost 3 key players(Suggs, Johnson, Redding). This might be the matchup that decides the game if it is close.
2. Ravens OL vs. Bengals DL- The Ravens offensive line is a bit of a mystery right now. It looks as if Bryant McKinney has been benched in favor of Kelechi Osemele. Osemele needed to be starting somewhere and it looks like the coaches think the OL is best served with him at RT and Oher at LT. Personally, I like McKinney and think this is a mistake, but i am willing to concede that I don’t know everything and I will wait to see how this plays out. Either way, the Bengals have one of the better DLs in the NFL even with Carlos Dunlop, their top pass rusher, out of the game. Geno Atkins remains one of the most under-rated players in the league. That said, the Ravens OL has a tendency to over-acheive against the Bengals and only allowed 2 sacks last year and one of them was a pure coverage sack. Not to shabby, but still a bad matchup.
1. A.J. Green vs. anyone but Webb- Green was a top 5 WR in his rookie year, he appears to have improved during the offseason. Take a minute to think about how scary that is. The key to the Ravens coming away with a win is going to be limiting what Green is able to do. if Green goes off for 100+ and multiple TDs(barring the Bengals playing major catchup football), it might be very difficult to walk away with a win.
***Honorable Mention*** Ravens Pass Rush vs. Bengals OL- How will the Ravens get pressure? that is the biggest question from the preseason. It doesn’t seem like the Ravens have the personnel to just lineup and rush, they are going to need deception and creative Blitzing to get consistent pressure. The Bengals only allowed 24 sacks last year and the Ravens only accounted for 3 of those (one for Suggs, McPhee and Pollard had the others). The Ravens will need to get a couple sacks to keep the Bengals offense grounded.