Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals Preview Roundup


Nov 10, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco (5) directs the offense against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Lunchtime Links, where we round up all the latest Ravens news from around the web for your convenient consumption.  Today we have a Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals Preview roundup, Marlon Brown is finding his place in the newly stacked offense, Bernard Pierce gets his chance to prove the critics wrong, and take a look at the newest statue outside M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals Preview Roundup

The early previews for this weekend’s opening day matchup between the Ravens and Bengals are popping up around the web.  And between these two division rivals, we have lots of angles to analyze.  Jamison Hensley points out the big vote of confidence the Bengals have in quarterback Andy Dalton after signing him to a big contract extension, and how Dalton has improved his deep ball accuracy and was more confident in the pocket this preseason.

CBS Sports puts a lot of emphasis on Andy Dalton as well, who is truly the x-factor for the Bengals future success or failure.  They also point out that the Ravens defense is going to be improved this year, identifying Terrell Suggs as a key component.  The Ravens are counting on Suggs and Dumervil to really bounce back this season.  If they fade down the stretch as they did last year, the pass rush could stall.  We do agree that this game will be a pretty low scoring, with a focus by both teams on the ground with intentions of winning the time of possession battle.

Marlon Brown finding his place in the offense

Wide receiver Marlon Brown played a bigger than expected role as a rookie in 2013, even setting a team record by hauling in seven touchdown catches.  But after the team added Steve Smith and Owen Daniels, drafted Michael Campanaro, and retained Kamar Aiken and Delonte Thompson, it seemed like Brown might suddenly become less relevant.

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And as Aaron Wilson at the Baltimore Sun points out, Brown saw very little action in the preseason.  He had one target and zero catches against the 49ers, two catches against the Cowboys, two targets and zero catches against the Redskins, and was inactive against the Saints.  Brown is a lock to see less targets this season than last, but he will still get quality reps and might benefit from less defensive attention.

Bernard Pierce out to prove critics wrong

Running back Bernard Pierce is getting a lot of attention this week, and for good reason.  Sunday will mark the first season opener that hasn’t seen Ray Rice as the Raven’s starting running back since 2008.  Both had a pretty rough season in 2013, so the heat is on Pierce to perform while Rice is suspended.  As Jeff Zrebiec points out, Pierce will get his chance to prove the critics wrong.

If Pierce’s preseason performance is any indication, he will rise to the challenge.  The Bengals defense will provide a tough challenge in week one, but if the offensive line does its job we fully expect Pierce to put up some nice numbers on Sunday.  He is a great fit for Gary Kubiak’s offense and exhibits excellent vision and decisiveness.  He is patient while holes open, and is able to make one cut and explode through the hole once it does.

Ray Lewis statue unveiled outside M&T Bank Stadium

If you missed the unveiling of the Ray Lewis statue yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium, it was a nice moment.  The pose they picked was perfect, and is a permanent reminder of how much energy the all time great brought to this team every week.  The site of Lewis, permanently taking up space beside Johnny Unitas, is truly something to see.