Posted in Ravens Thoughts

NFL Playoffs: 5 things we learned from Wild Card Round

By Chris Schisler

The NFL playoffs are underway and one round is in the books. What did we learn? How has the race for the Super Bowl started to take shape, and what do we know about some of the teams who didn’t do so hot this past weekend? Here are some answers, five lessons from the NFL Wild Card round.

1. The NFL playoff expansion hurts the quality of football:

There’s no way around the fact that the number two seed in both the AFC and NFC had a cakewalk of a game. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had it the easiest. They got a Philadelphia Eagles team that looked completely unprepared for the moment. The Buccaneers won 31-15 and the Eagles scored all 15 of their points in the fourth quarter. That may have been the worst playoff game I’ve ever seen. It was awful. The Kansas City Chiefs looked like they had a challenge. Then they turned on the jets and the Steelers were in trouble. Kansas City won 42-21.

The seventh seed led to two very pointless games. The Buffalo Bills also dominated the New England Patriots 47-17. The Los Angeles Rams made the new Monday night wild card game boring with a 34-11 win over the Arizona Cardinals. The playoffs are already where the contenders start to separate from the pack. Wild card blowouts aren’t actually that much of a rarity. Six teams per conference were enough. Seven teams per conference increase the chance of pretenders playing playoff games.

2. The Chiefs and Bills have a lot of firepower

The Chiefs looked like the Super Bowl contender that everybody feared them to be. Patrick Mahomes just went 30/39 for over 500 yards with five touchdown passes. Travis Kelce added a touchdown pass for good measure, I guess. Six Chiefs caught at least four passes. It was an onslaught and it was unstoppable. When the Chiefs are in a groove they are the most deadly offense in the NFL.

Speaking of in a groove, that’s what we got from Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. The Bills scored on every offensive possession except the one where Josh Allen took a knee at the end of the game. It wasn’t just the Allen to Steffan Diggs show. It was nine different Bills catching a pass. Also, it was Allen picking up 66 yards on the ground and Devin Singletary churning out over 5.1 yards per rushing attempt. When the Bills and Chiefs are on, they are very on.

These teams are set to take on each other in a rematch of last year’s AFC Championship game. The amount of firepower these two teams have is going to make this must-see TV. It’s a good chance that the AFC representative for the Super Bowl is the winner of this battle.

3. The 49ers have a Jimmy Garappolo problem

If the San Francisco 49ers could get by without throwing the football, they probably would. While the Dallas Cowboys had no answers for Elijah Mitchell or Deebo Samuel, they didn’t let Jimmy Garappolo have a big day. Garappolo threw a costly interception that got the Cowboys back in striking distance. While he was efficient completing 16 out of 25 passes, he only mustered 172 yards. It’s almost surprising how little the 49ers ask Garappolo to do.

The 49ers have some big wins under their belt. Garappalo has been average and he’s had some games where his play reached a high level. The big question against the Green Bay Packers though, is whether or not Garappolo will keep this offense in the hunt against Aaron Rodgers and a good Packers team. This is the best Packers team since Rodgers won the Super Bowl over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s hard to have confidence in the 49ers’ quarterback and that’s a problem.

4. NFL Wild Card game proves Raiders should be looking for a new head coach:

Rich Bisaccia may be the only interim head coach to lead a team to the playoffs, but he also had more talent than most interim head coaches have. The Raiders had Derek Carr, Darren Waller, Josh Jacobs, and a heck of a pass rush. That’s not a bare cupboard to bake dessert with. The fact of the matter is that the Raiders were a borderline playoff team. They got in, but it could have easily gone the other way. A playoff appearance isn’t a ticket to keeping the job.

The Raiders made it a game against the Cincinnati Bengals. They lost 26-19. but they looked completely out of sorts. The whole game was the Raiders playing catch-up and doing so in very uninspiring chunks at a time. The Raiders were penalized seven times. Most of this was undisciplined self-inflicted mistakes for the Raiders. Did Bisaccia take over for Jon Gruden and exceed expectations? He did, but how low were his expectations?

The Raiders are starting over. There’s no more Gruden. There’s no more Mayock, and keeping Bisaccia may make their fresh start a half-measure.

5. The Bengals are unfazed by the NFL postseason pressure

Give credit where credit is due. The Bengals handled the pressure of going for their first playoff win in 31 years beautifully. They embraced it and clearly saw it as an opportunity rather than something to worry about. Joe Burrow looked like he’s been in the playoffs before and it was his first trip to meaningful games in January.

Look, I’m still waiting for the shoe to drop. The defense has some issues and their inability to protect Joe Burrow in the pocket is worth bringing up. Larry Ogunjobi being out for the postseason hurts their defensive line and if Trey Hendrickson is out on Saturday it’s good news for the Tennessee Titans. Whether they’ve overachieved or not, this Bengals team is a confident one. They have a legitimate shot at going to the Super Bowl. If the shoe doesn’t drop and their carriage doesn’t turn into a pumpkin, the Bengals may be for real. The fact that beating the Raiders looked like another day at the office is a big sign for Zac Taylor’s team.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens coaching staff: 2021 exit assessment

Bring on the NFL Divisional Round. This should be fun.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

NFL Wild Card Preview: Thoughts for Saturday Slate

By Chris Schisler

The NFL Wild Card round starts today and it’s time for a quick preview of the action. The Saturday slate starts with a battle in The Jungle, it’s the Las Vegas Raiders vs. the Cincinnati Bengals. The nightcap is the Buffalo Bills hosting the Patriots in a division rivalry playoff style. Here’s what I’m thinking going into these games.

Raiders vs. Bengals

This game feels a lot like the Ravens playoff game against the Titans in 2019. It’s a Bengals team that’s feeling itself after winning the division for the first time in a long time. It’s a sneaky good matchup for the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals rebuild comes on the backs of young players and their lack of playoff experience has to be noted. The pressure is on the Bengals and if the Raiders make this a game, Cincinnati may not be able to handle it.

The Bengals are the best team in this matchup. Joe Burrow and those three great receivers are the marquee players here. Remember the Ravens were objectively better than the Titans in 2019. In the playoffs, it doesn’t matter unless you’re the better team that day. The Bengals’ offensive line isn’t great. Burrow has been sacked 51 times this season. That’s the most sacks a quarterback has taken this year,

Ravens fans know firsthand how Maxx Crosby can ruin a game. Crosby has eight sacks and a favorable matchup against a team built to throw it a lot. Yannick Ngakoue had 10 sacks this season and the Raiders are generally known for their ability to get after the quarterback.

Because of the Raiders’ one matchup advantage here and the fact that the Bengals are brand new at this contender thing, give me the Raiders. I’m going with the upset.

Prediction: Raiders win 35-28

Patriots vs. Bills:

This one is tough. These teams know each other very well and the AFC East was decided by the slimmest of margins. The Patriots have a young quarterback, but they have all the things that help said young quarterback. They have a coach who is a game plan master. They have a running game that has three running backs averaging over four yards per attempt. New England also has great tight end play. If the Bills can’t stop the run it will be a problem.

This game goes down to two things. Can the New England Patriots win the battle at the line of scrimmage? Secondly, can Josh Allen play at a level where the Bills are going to win regardless? Allen has been hot and cold this season. If Allen throws for under 250 yards and this is a defensive battle, the balance goes to the Patriots. If Allen plays his best, the Patriots aren’t stopping the Bills and their receiving weapons. The Bills have more firepower and they know it. They want to be aggressive in this game and get out to a fast start.

In the first game between these teams, the weather had a huge factor and the Patriots were able to just run the ball and get the win. Tonight will be brutally cold at Orchard Park, but for Buffalo standards, the wind is pretty mild. Both teams are used to playing in the cold so it’s hard to see this playing too much of a factor. In the end, I’ll go with Josh Allen over Mac Jones. Give me the Bills in this one.

Prediction: Bills win 28-24

NEXT POST: Ravens NFL Draft spotlight: Evan Neal OT, Alabama

The Purple and Black Nest aren’t getting a break just because the Ravens are out of the mix. There is plenty of offseason talk to go over with you. At the end of the day, this is a football site and the playoffs are in our jurisdiction. Playoffs, NFL Draft season, you name it and we’re on it.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

If Baltimore Ravens find consistency, they will win the AFC North

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens spent most of the season so far as the frontrunner in the AFC North. The Pittsburgh Steelers got off to a 1-3 start. The Cleveland Browns have been dealing with injuries and have been up and down. Their 5-5 record is proof of that. The Cincinnati Bengals have exceeded expectations but a couple of humbling losses has them back down to earth. It’s up for grabs in the AFC.

Which Baltimore Ravens team shows up?

It’s hard to know who the most trustworthy team is in the division. The Baltimore Ravens have a lot of their wins because of comebacks and miraculous moments. When they lost to the Miami Dolphins in Week 10, it showed how capable the Ravens were of laying an egg against lesser competition.

The Ravens have one constant. As long as they have Lamar Jackson they have a chance to win. Jackson is playing like an MVP and he’s the most important player in the entire division, maybe even in the NFL. The problem the Ravens have is that if Jackson is off by just a bit, the Ravens become a less powerful team. He’s the electricity and there is no backup generator.

The Ravens are so close to being an amazing team. Defensively the Ravens are solid in a lot of ways. The problem is they give up too many big plays. The big plays have haunted this team. It’s what squashed the comeback effort in Miami and what fueled the Raiders and Bengals victories over them. The Ravens can get a decent number of stops, but until they can be trusted not to have blown coverage down the field, or a missed tackle that springs a short pass into a long touchdown, the Ravens will be doing things the hard way.

The story of the Steelers:

The Steelers just tied with the Detroit Lions in an ugly game. Granted, the Steelers had to play the Lions without Ben Roethlisberger, but his absence showed how much is going wrong in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has gotten their wins in scrape by fashion. Many would tell you that the NFL officials propelled them unfairly against the Chicago Bears. The Steelers barely beat the Seattle Seahawks without Russell Wilson. While the Browns only put up 10 points against them, Pittsburgh struggled to get their 15 points on the board.

Defensively, the Steelers have a lot going for them. Games with the Steelers are good for betting the under. The Steelers haven’t scored more than 29 points in a game this season. Their opponents don’t light up the score either. If T.J. Watt gets healthy, the Steelers have a shot to keep winning with their defense.

The Steelers’ big conflict, in a nutshell, is that they average 19.7 points per game and their opponents average 20.6 points per game. The defense has to do the heavy lifting. Their offense finds little grooves here and there, but their overall output isn’t great. A battle with the Steelers is usually a race to 24 points. Get there first and you’re probably giving Pittsburgh a loss.

Can you trust the Browns or Bengals?

Baker Mayfield has been dealing with injuries and for the most part, playing through them. The Browns quarterback isn’t having the 2021 season Cleveland was hoping for though, which is something to be mindful of. He has 1,990 passing yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions. The Browns have scored under 20 points in five games this season and just lost 45-7 to the New England Patriots.

Dealing with injuries to notable stars like Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Greedy Williams, the Browns have stayed in the thick of things. They’ve folded against good competition though, losing big to the Arizona Cardinals, and Patriots. They came up short against the Chiefs and botched a legitimate shot to take down Pittsburgh. The Browns are a tricky wild card. They have to be taken seriously, but they haven’t looked like world-beaters by any stretch of the imagination.

The Bengals are 5-4. There was a ton of buzz around the Bengals after they knocked the doors off the Ravens. Since then. the Bengals have lost to the New York Jets and then got torched by the up and down Browns.

Baltimore Ravens’ Bottom Line:

Every team has had its big moment. Every team has its moment as the frontrunner. If there was a team in the AFC North that had all their ducks in a row, that team would be in a one-horse race. In actuality, the AFC North is a battle between four teams that could show up hot or cold on any Sunday. That’s why getting it right is so crucial for the Baltimore Ravens. There is no time to waste.

The Ravens play the Browns after their battle with the Chicago Bears. Then they have the Steelers and a rematch against the Browns. It’s probably not going to be this easy, yet if the Ravens won the next four games they’d be 10-3 in a very comfortable situation. This opportunity is huge for Baltimore. The expectation has to be two wins out of the three consecutive AFC North battles.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears: 4 predictions and a score

The bottom line is that any team in this division can walk away with the crown. The Ravens still have five divisional games left. If they win four of them, they probably win the division. It’s that simple. Baltimore must find consistency right away. The AFC North team that finds the answers they need to find wins division. The team that puts it all together wins. It’s that simple, and the Baltimore Ravens have got to get some work done.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens bye week went as well as it could

By Chris Schisler 

The Baltimore Ravens didn’t have a game in week 8 of the NFL season. Things went the way the purple and black wanted them to go while they were idle.

Baltimore Ravens got the results they wanted: 

The Cincinnati Bengals fell to the New York Jets. While they have the same amount of wins as the Ravens, they now have one more loss. Despite the head-to-head advantage, Joe Burrow and company dropped to second place in the division.

After the Bengals game, it seemed likely that the Bengals weren’t that good and the Ravens weren’t that bad. The Bengals leaned into that theory. While the real takeaway is that it is a week-to-week league and that anything can happen on NFL Sunday, seeing the Bengals falter is comforting for Baltimore.

The rest of the division (The Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers) did battle in Ohio. Baker Mayfield player despite his shoulder injury, though Cleveland only put up 10 points. In a game that was as much of an offensive struggle as it was a defensive showdown, Pittsburgh prevailed 15-10.

The Ravens should take note that the Steelers have righted the ship and the murky waters are no longer flooding their cabin. Pittsburgh has won three straight games and is in a much more comfortable spot than they were at 1-3.

This was still the outcome that strategically works for Baltimore. The Browns are now 4-4. The Steelers are 4-3. Instead of the Browns inching closer to the top. A division with three five-w

in teams would have made this a different kind of a feel on Monday.

The Steelers and the Browns look like beatable foes: 

The Steelers don’t look like world-beaters. They have scored under 20 points in four games this season.

Their bout with Cleveland was arguably their best offensive performance. They only averaged 5.4 yards a play and went 4-13 on third-down conversion attempts. It really feels as if 24 points is usually enough to beat Ben Roethlisberger and company this year. That’s not a discomfort to a Ravens team picking up 26.7 points per game.

The Browns are a disappointment. A team that was supposed to climb into the elite class of the AFC has four losses and is sitting in fourth place. That’s a tough pill to swallow for the sexy preseason pick to win the AFC North.

The Ravens were handed humble pie against the Bengals. Things looked bad. The problems (that weren’t hard to find) felt like they could sink the Ravens’ season. The dark cloud of an embarrassing loss at home is starting to move away from M&T Bank stadium.

The fact is that there’s not a team in this division that doesn’t have issues. There’s no king-slaying team running a rampage through the division. There’s a Ravens team that is in first place despite a plethora of injuries. There’s the Bengals who just got too high on themselves and let a backup’s backup quarterback go for 400 yards in his game. There’s the Browns and the Steelers with four losses apiece.

The Bottom Line: 

Do the Ravens need to do better when they return to action against the Minnesota Vikings? Sure thing. They need to start winning the battle at the line of scrimmage offensively. On defense, they need to find what makes them tick and some consistency to go with that. But as the sun came up this morning, the Ravens were back in first place in the AFC North. Everything is still there for the taking.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens: Top 10 positives at the bye

A bounce-back week with two games (Vikings on Sunday, Miami Dolphins on Thursday) is just what the doctor ordered. If the Ravens reclaim their confidence, they can still be the dangerous team we thought they were when they crushed Justin Herbert’s Los Angeles Chargers. A perfect bye week has resurfaced optimism in Baltimore.

Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens: 6 keys for the offense against the Bengals

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens have a big showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals this week. Sunday’s battle is big for the Ravens who hope to maintain dominance not only in their division but the entire AFC. Here are eight keys for the Ravens’ offense against the Cincinnati Bengals.

1. Take what is given – don’t force things

The Baltimore Ravens are their best when they beat their opponent the smart way. If the Bengals sell their souls to stop the run, Lamar Jackson should surgically cut through the defense as a passer. If the Bengals take away the big plays down the field, the Ravens need a solid run game and a passing offense that stretches the width of the field. It sounds ultra simplistic, but that’s the main key in just about every game the Ravens play.

When the Ravens had J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards they could stay in their comfort zone whether or not the box was overloaded. With less talent at running back and more problems upfront, the Ravens lost the capacity to stick to one way of beating their opponent. Luckily this change coincided with Lamar Jackson’s beautiful maturation as an elite passer. Now the Ravens can beat you multiple ways and recognizing the smart way rather than the hard way is imperative.

2. Take care of the football and dominate the time of possession

The Ravens are the favorites. The Ravens are the home team. Baltimore is expected to beat an opponent they’ve beaten five times in a row. Every extra chance the Ravens give the Bengals keeps the oxygen flowing to their hopes of an upset. Turnovers in this game could be nightmare fuel. The Bengals defense has struggled to generate turnovers so unforced errors are unacceptable in this battle.

As special as Jackson has played this season, you can’t overlook the turnover problem he’s had this year. Last week, Jackson had an interception right over the middle of the field, right to a Chargers defender. Costly fumbles have hurt the Ravens this year. Jackson has to continue to tighten the screws on this issue.

If you think of the hope the Bengals have in this game as a fire the Ravens need to put out, it puts this game in perspective. Don’t spark the flame with mistakes. Nothing squashes Cincinatti’s hope more than long drives that tire out the Bengals’ defense and deprive Joe Burrow of opportunities.

3. Spread the ball around

The Baltimore Ravens have to spread the football to all their receivers. This is no longer an offense that needs to overly lean on Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown. Devin Duvernay and James Proche have been playing well. Rashod Bateman has only had one game but the positive signs are there for him. Heck, the Ravens can even get Josh Oliver involved in the passing game. Spreading the ball around feeds into the idea of beating the defense more than one way. It makes the Ravens less predictable if it’s more than just the stars who get passes their ways.

4. Account for Trey Hendrickson in their pass protection

Trey Hendrickson has 5.5 sacks this season. Considering there have only been six games, that’s fairly impressive. The Ravens need to account for the Bengals top pass rusher in their pass protection. It needs to be something Greg Roman thinks about when calling plays. Baltimore is deploying a Plan B offensive line. This is a matchup that could tilt Cincinnati’s way. The game plan has to be made with that being a known thing from the word go.

5. The middle of the offensive line must step up

This is a game where the middle of the offensive line has to step up, it isn’t all about the tackles. Larry Ogunjobi and B.J. Hill can push the pocket with an interior pass rush. Hill in particular is having a strong season. He has three sacks and has been a force that has bounced running backs away at the line of scrimmage. Hill has a Pro Football Focus score of 79.2. His run defense score is 81.5. The Ravens have some tough bodies to move in the run game. The guards have to step up. Bradley Bozeman has to be ready as well at the center position.

6. Use Jackson’s legs to keep the Bengals nervous

The Ravens have to use Lamar Jackson’s legs in this game. The Bengals have been burned by Jackson’s running ability before. They’re going to react strongly every time they think Jackson is going to run the rock. Baltimore has to sprinkle in just enough Jackson carries to keep the Bengals diligent against it. The Ravens can play off of that and keep Cincinnati in constant fear of Jackson taking off.

NEXT POST: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 4 predictions and a score

There you go. This is what the Ravens need to accomplish when the offense has the ball against the Bengals.


Posted in Pregame Content

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson owns the Cincinnati Bengals

By Chris Schisler

The Baltimore Ravens haven’t lost to the Cincinnati Bengals since Lamar Jackson made his first start in the 2018 season. Jackson made his first start in a November game against the Bengals. In that initial contest, he ran the ball 26 times for 119 yards and went 13-19 as a passer for 150 yards. The Ravens won 24-21.

The Ravens swept the Bengals in the 2019 season. Against the Bengals, Jackson looked every bit the unanimous MVP he was that season. Jackson had 236 passing yards and 152 rushing yards in the showdown in Baltimore. The Bengals saw Jackson put up 388 total yards and they left Baltimore with a loss.

Jackson’s first trip to Cincinnati saw one of the top highlights of Jackson’s career. He had a 47-yard touchdown run where he used a spin move to score a jaw-dropping touchdown. This one wasn’t close, the Ravens won 49-13. Jackson had 223 passing yards and 65 yards on the ground. The Bengals had as many answers as a blind man looking for keys.

Last October the Ravens beat the Bengals 27-3. In the regular season finale, the Ravens won 38-3 Jackson had mild statistical performances in these games – he didn’t need to do much because the Bengals were getting pummeled by J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Let’s talk about some totals though.

Lamar Jackson is a problem for the Bengals:

Jackson has rushed for 436 total yards in five games against the Bengals. He averages 87.2 yards per game as a runner in these games. In these five games Jackson has put up 11 total touchdowns. He averaged a completion percentage of 65.44. If there’s one team that has struggled the most against Jackson it’s the Bengals. Many teams have failed to stop Jackson, Cincinnati is the return customer who keeps getting too much Action Jackson to handle.

Last week Aaron Rodgers taunted the Chicago Bears crowd. After a touchdown Rodgers declared “I own you!” Rodgers record against Chicago supports that claim. Much like Rodgers owns the Bears, Jackson owns the Bears. While the Joe Flacco era was filled with frustrating losses to the Bengals, so far Jackson has had nothing but punishment for the Bengals. Jackson owns the Bengals.

The Ravens have a battle with the Bengals this week. Admittedly this is a new look Bengals team. Cincinatti is 4-2 after six weeks of football, Joe Burrow has had no less than two touchdown strikes in a game this season, and he has a quarterback rating of over 100 in all but one game this season. The Bengals went toe to toe with the Green Bay Packers and if they had a better kicker, the Bengals would have ended Green Bay’s win streak. This Bengals team won’t cower against elite competiion.

This is a much different Bengals team. When Joe Flacco was the quarterback of the Ravens and Marvin Lewis coached the Bengals, Cincinnati had an inexplicably amazing record against the Ravens. From 2012 until their last game vs. Flacco in 2018 the Bengals were 9-3 against the Ravens. With Jackson as the quarterback the Ravens have five straight wins, with three of them being absolutle blowouts.

The Bottom Line:

The Ravens have to show up for this game. They’re playing a quality opponent that happens to be a division rival. The Bengals don’t have the Ravens number anymore though, and if Jackson keeps tormenting them, that shouldn’t change.

You could make the argument that John Harbaugh has Zac Taylor and his team pegged the way Marvin Lewis used to have all the answers against him. That being said, the major factor to changing the nature of this rivalry has obviously been the man who rocks the number eight.

NEXT POST Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 4 predictions and a score

Unless the Bengals figure out their Lamar Jackson problems, the Baltimore Ravens should be expected to prevail in this Week 7 game in Baltimore.

Posted in Ravens Thoughts

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 4 predictions and a score

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.

NEXT POST: The Baltimore Ravens and the year of incredible resilience

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.