Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 3 things to watch for

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Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) gets set to take the snap as the Cincinnati Bengals defense gets organized in the second quarter of a Week 10 NFL game, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Baltimore Ravens At Cincinnati Bengals Nov 10 Nfl Week 10

The Baltimore Ravens will be looking to push their record to 4-1 this Sunday as they welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to M&T Bank Stadium at 1:00 p.m.

The Baltimore Ravesn will be looking for their second straight win as they are coming off of a 31-17 victory last Sunday over the Washington Football Team. Lamar Jackson was 14-21 for 193-yards with two touchdowns and an interception in the contest. Jackson also pitched in another 53-yards and a touchdown on the ground including the latest submission to his ever-expanding highlight reel:

That extended the Ravens lead to 14-0 and they would add two touchdown passes and a Justin Tucker field goal from there to help put away the 31-17 victory.

From a defensive perspective, the Ravens did surrender 300+ yards passing in back-to-back weeks and struggled with the Football Team’s Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson. They did force a key turnover early in the contest when Marlon Humphrey punched one loose and the ball was scooped up by Marcus Peters. Two plays later, Mark Ingram found the end zone for the second time of the season to give the Ravens a 7-0 lead.

The Ravens will welcome a Bengals team to town fresh off of their first win of the 2020 season, a 33-25 decision against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rookie QB Joe Burrow threw for 300+ yards for his third consecutive game and the Bengals defense did just enough to run their 2020 record to 1-2-1.

An AFC North clash awaits on Sunday and here are three things I am watching for as the Ravens welcome the Bengals.

1) Missing the Mark

Out of sync. Stuck in the mud. Missing a beat.

These are all phrases folks have used to describe the Ravens prolific rushing attack so far in the 2020 season. There’s a myriad of reasons and theories as to why the running game hasn’t quite churned along at the historic pace they were able to chew up yards last season. But has it really been that noticeable?

I decided to take a look at the rushing numbers through four games in each of the last two seasons and here’s what I found:

*Totals include Robert Griffin  III and Pat Ricard

2019

Jackson 36 carries, 238 yards, one touchdown, 6.61 yards per carry
Ingram 55 carries, 328 yards, five touchdowns, 5.96 yards per carry
Hill 11 carries, 40 yards, no touchdowns, 3.64 yards per carry
Edwards 33  carries,148 yards no touchdowns, 4.48 yards per carry
TOTALS: 139 carries, 763 yards, six touchdowns 5.49 yards per carry

2020

Jackson 39 carries, 235 yards, one touchdown, 6.03 yards per carry
Ingram 34 carries, 148 yards, two touchdowns, 4.35 yards per carry
Dobbins 15 carries, 92 yards, two touchdowns, 6.13 yards per carry
Edwards 27 carries, 167 yards, no touchdowns, 6.19 yards per carry
TOTALS: 120 carries, 643 yards, five touchdowns, 5.36 yards per carry

So the first thing that stands out here is Mark Ingram. His carries are significantly down so far this season and thus his production has declined noticeably as well. The touchdown regression we see from Ingram was to be expected heading into this season though. I really do wonder if the Ravens are opting for a more balanced rushing attack to preserve Ingram for the stretch run of a typically more run-oriented offensive attack.

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The other explanation here is the one that I don’t imagine most folks, including Ingram, don’t want to hear. Ingram turns 31 in two months and when you look at his last four games from last year plus his first four games from this year, he’s showing slight signs of slowing down. 85 total carries for 388 yards and three touchdowns. These are hardly pedestrian numbers though and the hope is the Ravens can get Ingram back on track.

If not, there has to be a focus on getting Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins more involved. Maybe the Ravens just need to focus on getting one back going instead of dispersing carries. Overall they are rushing for 30 yards less per game than they did through four games last season. However, churning along at 160.75 yards per game would have still led the NFL last season by 16 yards per game.

Maybe there’s nothing to see here. But it certainly feels like the Ravens are missing the Mark on the ground so far this season.

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