By Chris Schisler
1. The Baltimore Ravens defense stays hot
The Baltimore Ravens defense has a good chance to stay hot and pick up some momentum. Last week the Ravens stood tall against Justin Herbert. The only score the Chargers had was a touchdown right after a Ravens’ turnover. The Ravens showed their best defensive performance of the season. It was the first time the defense showed that it could be dominant against a top-tier opponent.
If you’ve been paying attention though, this was not the first time the defense has shown steps forward. The Broncos’ passing attack was absolutely thwarted by the Baltimore defense. The Lions’ offense struggled until the dam broke against a Ravens defense that was thinned out on the defensive front. The Ravens stopped the Kansas City Chiefs when they had to for a strong comeback win. The Chargers game looked like an example of a defense finding its identity and sticking with it.
The Cincinnati Bengals offense isn’t much different than that of the Chargers. They have an impressive young wide receiver and plenty of talent at wide receiver. The Ravens should be able to utilize a very similar game plan on defense against the Bengals. Joe Burrow may put up some decent numbers, but Martindale is going to make third downs a bad place for the Bengals to be. The red zone is going to be quite the challenge for Cincinnati. The Bengals may get the defense to bend, but they’re not going to break it. I’m calling it now, the Bengals are held to less than 300 total yards and struggle to get in the end zone more than once or twice.
2. Mark Andrews has a monster game:
The Ravens and Bengals play twice per season, so some matchups are more predictable than others. In the two games last year Andrews put up 10 receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. In 2019, Andrews had six catches in both games. In the first of the 2019 battles with Cincinnati, Andrews had two touchdowns. In the second, Andrews had no touchdowns but 99 yards receiving. Andrews hasn’t brutalized the Bengals quite like he has the other team from Ohio, but he always shows up in these games.
Let’s take a look at the momentum Andrews is having going into this game. He has two games this season with over 100 receiving yards. Two weeks ago against the Colts, he had 11 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Last week, Andrews had five receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have a mostly young defense and no answers for Andrews. Put Andrews down for eight receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Rashod Bateman gets heavily involved in the Baltimore Ravens offense:
Rashod Bateman had four receptions for first downs against the Chargers. It was his first taste of football in a Ravens uniform. Other than a drop that led to an interception, it went well. The fact that the Ravens gave Bateman so many snaps in his first game shows you both how ready he was but also how the Ravens feel about him as a receiver. It’s important to remember that Devin Duvernay and James Proche have been playing well – the Ravens didn’t necessarily need to add Bateman to the main mix.
Put Bateman down for five receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown. It’s not a monster game but it’s going to put on quite the impression on the football world. Bateman is going to show that he is the real deal and that his presence makes the Ravens more dangerous offensively.
Score: Ravens win 35-24
The Ravens’ offense is humming at a nice rate. They know what they’re about and Lamar Jackson makes a lot of things work smoother than maybe they should. With the defense filling me with confidence last week, I think the Ravens prevail by more than one score in front of their home crowd.
Look for the Bengals to make this a good game for two or three quarters. In the end, the Ravens are the best fourth-quarter team in football plus they’re the better overall team at home. Baltimore will pull away and win this one. This strikes me as a team that will take advantage of the games they should win.