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Thread: Week 1: Keys to the Game, Ravens

  1. Quote Originally Posted by HOF View Post
    I'm no fan of Mixon but there's no reason he can't do the same things Hunt was doing. In fact, I was struck by how much the Chiefs offense...all 500 yards and 40 points of it....looked like the Bengals.
    I don't think the bengals will ever get blocking that even resembles what you saw last night

  2. #12
    Nobody gets the ball out of his hands faster than Alex Smith. The announcers commented on it several times after check down after check down. Bengals have the TE's and RB's to do what the Chiefs did IMO and with AJ Green and Co. they've got a better outside the hashes passing attack.

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by HOF View Post
    Nobody gets the ball out of his hands faster than Alex Smith. The announcers commented on it several times after check down after check down. Bengals have the TE's and RB's to do what the Chiefs did IMO and with AJ Green and Co. they've got a better outside the hashes passing attack.
    I don't think it's a personnel issue but a coaching one.

    I think we could actually run an offense like the pats too if we wanted to.

    Hopefully zamp watched last night and took notes. Use Ross like the chiefs use hill. Use mix like they used hunt.

  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JBandJoeyV View Post
    I still think Mixon is gonna be really good...but watching hunt and how much I wanted him this offseason...could have saved the bad press, used the 2nd rounder on another position, and got a very good RB in hunt in the third.

    I'm good with how things turned out but I think hunt is gonna be a very solid running back for the chiefs.
    Agreed - he looked really solid. Nice get for KC.

    That said, Mixon has the potential to be a top 5 back in the league... someone with his size, speed, ability to play all three downs, etc. - is very hard to find.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by JBandJoeyV View Post

    Hopefully zamp watched last night and took notes. Use Ross like the chiefs use hill. Use mix like they used hunt.
    Use Eifert like the Chiefs use Kelce.

    Point being the Bengals match up with the Chiefs offense everywhere and are actually better (AJ Green) in a very important spot. And Dalton gives them a game manager very much like Alex Smith.

    Bengals could actually be more explosive. The Chiefs had nearly 20 accepted penalties to overcome.

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by HOF View Post
    Use Eifert like the Chiefs use Kelce.

    Point being the Bengals match up with the Chiefs offense everywhere and are actually better (AJ Green) in a very important spot. And Dalton gives them a game manager very much like Alex Smith.

    Bengals could actually be more explosive. The Chiefs had nearly 20 accepted penalties to overcome.
    Comes down to coaching and play calling. When was the last time we threw the ball to a running back down the seam like the chiefs did with Hunt for a 70 yard td last night? I know Mixon is new, but gio is capable of doing those types of plays too.

  7. #17
    NFL Week 1 Ravens at Bengals: 6 player matchups to watch


    We take a look at the key matchups that may decide if the Bengals begin the season 1-0 or 0-1.

    by Anthony Cosenza@CJAnthonyCUI Sep 7, 2017, 10:00am EDT

    Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesThe Cincinnati Bengals start off with a difficult task in the first week of the 2017 season, as they host a divisional foe in the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. Even though the Bengals have gone 5-1 against Baltimore since 2014, these games always give us some of the wackiest plays of the year.

    Here are some of the biggest individual matchups to keep an eye on this Sunday, as the Ravens travel to Paul Brown Stadium.

    Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi versus edge rusher Terrell Suggs:

    The veteran pass-rusher has had a borderline Hall of Fame career and still seems to be very effective. Even though he missed most of 2015, Suggs has still managed to get 30 sacks since 2013. With all of the success he’s had over the years, he was almost-always stymied by Andrew Whitworth on the left side.

    Aside from needing to see overall improvement from Ogbuehi in his first year starting at left tackle, he’ll need to keep Suggs at bay Sunday afternoon. If Suggs can get to Andy Dalton, it will not only show the effectiveness the Bengals will be missing from Whitworth in 2017, but will also prove the old Raven still has something left in the tank in his 15th season.

    Linebacker Nick Vigil versus tight end Nick Boyle:

    The Bengals will be doing a lot of “by committee” approaches this year, as some of their younger players continue to get their feet under them. In limited preseason time, Vigil was effective, showing off the range that drew Cincinnati to him in the third round of last year’s draft.

    Even with Vigil’s athleticism, the Bengals have had a hard time finding effective answers to eliminating tight ends from the opposition’s arsenal. He’ll be even further under the microscope against the likes of Boyle, as Vontaze Burfict, the team’s best linebacker, will be out of the lineup with a suspension.

    Cornerback Darqueze Dennard versus wide receiver Mike Wallace:

    Joining Burfict on the Week 1 suspension list is Adam Jones, who had an off-field incident in January. Even though he’s up there in age, Jones is still a very effective corner in the NFL. Given how the most recent depth chart released by the Bengals looks, it will be Dennard, and not William Jackson III, lining up on the outside.

    Jackson and his combination of size and length seem to be a better matchup on paper against Wallace, but Cincinnati is going with experience. Dennard will have to play some of the best football we’ve seen from him since he joined the Bengals, should they want to have a solid shot at winning on Sunday.

    Wide receiver A.J. Green versus cornerback Brandon Carr:

    To put it bluntly, the Ravens have yet to find an answer for Green. The Pro Bowl wideout has absolutely torched Baltimore recently, including six touchdown catches and three 100-yard receiving performances (one was for 227 yards) against the vaunted Ravens defense.


    Graham Barfield

    A.J. Green's last five career games vs. #Ravens:
    8/151/1 (15)
    4/61/1 (10)
    6/131/1 (9)
    10/227/2 (13)
    4/34/1 (5)
    10:41 AM - Sep 6, 2017

    Even though he failed to live up to his mega-deal with the Dallas Cowboys, Green is a major reason as to why the Ravens signed Carr. They need some sort of answer to at least contain Dalton’s favorite weapon, and Carr could be the guy. Still, the veteran corner has just one interception over the last three seasons, so he’ll need to make a big jump in performance right away for the Ravens.

    Running back Jeremy Hill versus linebacker C.J. Mosley:

    Because of the excitement he brought this preseason, one is inclined to think Joe Mixon is the guy to watch here, but Hill is atop the depth chart at the position. In recent matchups, the Bengals have been able to get some gigantic plays in the passing game against Baltimore, but they have struggled getting consistency in the running game.

    Though they lost two mainstays on the offensive line this offseason, the Bengals are committed to making the run game work well this year. With three second-round picks invested at the position, the team has a plethora of talent. Mixon might be the best of the group, in terms of making something out of seemingly nothing, but Hill is the big back who is playing for a new contract somewhere in 2018.

    Mosley has been a solid pickup for a seemingly-always stout Ravens defense, so he and Hill will clash early and often on Sunday. If Hill can get chunk yardage early on, Dalton and Co. will gain confidence and be able to properly utilize play-action passing.

    Kick returner Alex Erickson versus specialists Sam Koch and Justin Tucker:

    Erickson exploded on the preseason scene last year after going undrafted and followed it up with a nice rookie campaign returning kicks for the Bengals. This preseason, Erickson didn’t have the same success, whether it was because he was a bit more tentative with sensing his solid roster status, or a lot of new faces helping out on special teams.

    Ravens head coach John Harbaugh comes from a special teams background, and it shows. Tucker and Koch are two of the best in the business and will be trying to disallow Erickson to make any plays. If the Bengals’ offense happens to sputter on Sunday, the second-year return man will be a key factor.

  8. #18

  9. #19
    Scouting report for the Ravens-Bengals regular-season opener in Cincinnati on Sunday

    Jeff Zrebiec breaks down the season opener between the Ravens and Bengals.

    Jeff ZrebiecContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

    RAVENS PASSING GAME: It’s impossible to know what to expect with the Ravens passing game because so many key components of it, including quarterback Joe Flacco, running back Danny Woodhead and wide receiver Breshad Perriman, weren’t on the field together during the preseason. Flacco has been intercepted 21 times against the Bengals, 10 more than he has against any other team. Expect the Ravens to keep things simple for Flacco, who has some rust to work off. Protecting him is imperative.

    BENGALS PASSING GAME: Starting quarterback Andy Dalton has been uneven against the Ravens in his career, throwing 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions while getting sacked 22 times in 11 games. A.J. Green, on the other hand, has six touchdown catches in his past five games versus the Ravens. Dalton has said that Green had the best training camp of his career, a scary proposition for the Ravens. First-round receiver John Ross is expected to miss the game with a knee injury. Cincinnati has some questions up front.


    RAVENS RUNNING GAME: The Ravens put a lot of emphasis on improving their running game, but it didn’t impress at all in the preseason. They averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and the team’s top two backs, Terrance West and Buck Allen, averaged 2.4 and 2.9 yards, respectively. The Ravens kept it basic in the preseason and they were working behind a makeshift offensive line. This will be an early test to see if they can establish and stick to a running game, which they haven’t done since 2014.

    BENGALS RUNNING GAME: There is some curiosity with how the Bengals will divvy up their carries. Jeremy Hill, the team’s starter for much of the past three seasons, currently sits atop the depth chart. However, there is a perception that rookie second-round pick Joe Mixon will ultimately be the starter, and perhaps sooner rather than later. Mixon looked more explosive than Hill in the preseason. The Bengals also still have Giovani Bernard, who is coming back from a knee injury. Dalton has hurt the Ravens with his legs.


    RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: From 2006 to 2011, the Ravens had a top-five rushing defense every year. They got back to that standard last season as they allowed 89.4 yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL. With so much bulk and athleticism inside with Michael Pierce, Brandon Williams and Brent Urban, there’s no reason why the Ravens shouldn’t have a dominant run defense. There will be pressure on weak-side linebackers Kamalei Correa and Patrick Onwuasor, who might rotate alongside C.J. Mosley.

    BENGALS RUSH DEFENSE: Cincinnati’s rush defense struggled at times last season, allowing 113.3 yards per game while ranking 21st in the NFL. They’ll be without starting inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict on Sunday as he serves a three-game suspension. Kevin Minter, who spent the past four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, takes over as the Bengals middle linebacker. Nick Vigil is also a first-year starter in the middle. Familiar faces like Karlos Dansby, Rey Maualuga and Domata Peko are gone.

    RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: Jimmy Smith got through training camp healthy and his reward is a likely matchup with star wide receiver A.J. Green, who has tormented the Ravens. The Ravens kept things vanilla in the preseason, and their starting defense still didn’t allow a single scoring drive. Players have spoken excitedly about the various looks their personnel will allow them to play. It will have to start with getting a pass rush up front. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has a lot of weapons he can employ.

    BENGALS PASS DEFENSE: The Bengals have flummoxed Joe Flacco over the years with their Cover-2 schemes. However, they’ll be without top cover cornerback Adam Jones, who is serving a one-game suspension, and likely starting strong safety Shawn Williams who is dealing with a dislocated elbow. Like the Ravens, the Bengals added two edge players in the draft and they’re banking on Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson aiding the pass rush. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins remains one of the league’s best.


    RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Justin Tucker looked in midseason form during the preseason, hitting on all seven of his field-goal attempts, including two from beyond 50 yards. The Ravens lost several core special teamers, so they’ll have to lean on newcomers like Bam Bradley, Chuck Clark and Vince Mayle to solidify their coverage teams, which have been very good over the years. Michael Campanaro and Chris Moore are expected to handle return duties.

    BENGALS SPECIAL TEAMS: Randy Bullock, who made five of six field-goal attempts last year after joining the Bengals, beat out rookie fifth-round draft pick Jake Elliott in the preseason. Bullock has played for five different organizations and has made 81.4 percent of his field-goal attempts in his career. Kevin Huber is in his ninth season as Cincinnati’s punter. Wide receiver Alex Erickson finished second in the NFL last season with an average of 27.9 yards per kickoff return.

    RAVENS INTANGIBLES: If the Ravens are going win an AFC North title, they have to figure out how to get past the Bengals. Cincinnati has beaten the Ravens in six of the past seven meetings and the Ravens haven’t won at Paul Brown Stadium since the 2011 season. They’ll also need to clean up their play on the road. The Ravens are just 4-12 over the past two seasons away from home. The Ravens had a difficult training camp, but they’re getting healthier at the right time.

    BENGALS INTANGIBLES: This is a big season for the Bengals, who had made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons before last year’s injury-marred 6-9-1 campaign. Marvin Lewis, the team’s head coach since 2003, is entering the final year of his contract, and the Bengals are entering a youth movement of sorts. They have the third-youngest roster to start the season in the NFL. The Bengals haven’t had a losing record at home since 2010.


    PREDICTION: Both of these teams have had a pretty tumultuous couple of months with injuries, suspensions and roster losses. The Ravens have been hit hard on offense. The Bengals have been hit hard on defense. It’s set up for a potentially busy day for the punters and a regular-season opener that might not be aesthetically pleasing. It’s dicey enough that Joe Flacco will have had just five days of practice to prepare for the season and to get acclimated. When you add in the fact that he faces a Bengals defense that has had his number, it pushes things in Cincinnati’s favor.

    BENGALS, 20-13

  10. #20
    Media Roundtable: Green-Dalton Bengals finally get home cooking in opener

    Posted 55 minutes ago
    Geoff HobsonEditorBengals.comFollow Me Blog

    Not only can you go home again, you can open there and for the first time in their seven NFL seasons wide receiver A.J. Green and Andy Dalton get to do that Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Channel 12) at Paul Brown Stadium against the Ravens.

    So the Media Roundtable has become a bunch of homers for the first PBS opener since 2009, when former Raven Brandon Stokley conspired with fate and Kyle Orton for Denver to beat the Bengals in the last 11 seconds on a ridiculous 87-yard tipped pass.

    The Table is playing it a lot straighter than that in making it a unanimous call for the hosts.

    Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun has been watching the Ravens offense all year and can’t see how they mix up enough chemistry to win. Alex Marvez, talkmaster of NFL Sirius Radio, thinks the home opener means something and that Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther won’t allow Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to peel off the rust from sitting until this week with a bad back.

    Paul Dehner, Jr., of The Cincinnati Enquirer thinks his first game as a father will be the mother of all slobberknockers with the Bengals defense and kicker Randy Bullock getting the last word, while Channel 12 sports columnist Richard Skinner thinks the Ravens’ depleted skill set on offense won’t have an answer for the Bengals’ pass rush.

    Let’s go around the table.

    The Ravens could look really bad offensively early. Flacco never plays well against the Bengals. The cover two. He hasn’t figured it out after all these years. He has 10 more interceptions against the Bengals than against any other team. That’s just amazingly significant. It’s been a big talking point all week. They haven’t won there since 2011.

    Flacco is going into it with what? Three or four practices and two walk-throughs? He’s never thrown to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin before. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman isn’t 100 percent. Wide receiver Mike Wallace is OK, but they just don’t have young, athletic guys on offense. They’ve relied on older receivers and haven’t been able to develop younger ones.

    They came in talking about running the ball, but they haven’t shown the inclination to do that yet. They haven’t run the ball since 2014, the last time they made the playoffs. It’s just been tough to evaluate any skill players on offense because back-up quarterback Ryan Mallett was so bad and there were backups on the offensive line with left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda missing much of the preseason, left guard Alex Lewis out for the year, and right tackle Austin Howard not coming in until the first week of camp and he had to lose some weight.

    Flacco got hot and won the Super Bowl, but I think people here realize what he is. He’s fine. He’s solid. But he’s not going to carry you.
    They upgraded the team speed of the defense in a huge way. It’s going to be a top defense, but I don’t know if it’s going to be dominant. They don’t have any real ball hawks. Safety Eric Weddle kind of is, yet while they’ve got a lot of really good players they don’t have an elite, take-the-game-over player.

    But they’re good and they’re faster and more athletic. They upgraded about four or five spots. They’ve got some young pass rushers on the outside replacing the aging Elvis Dumervil with Matthew Judon and Tyus Bowser, the second-round pick who is extremely athletic. They also got Tim Williams, the third-rounder backing up Terrell Suggs. Even along the front nose tackle Michael Pierce is quick for a big guy. When they signed veteran safety Tony Jefferson and drafted cornerback Marlon Humphrey, they also got faster in the secondary.

    The only question mark on defense, really, is the retirement of Zach Orr at linebacker. They’ve got Kamalei Correa, a second-rounder from last year who is fast but has other questions.

    THE EDGE: BENGALS, 20-13. I think the Ravens defense will play pretty well. Their first unit didn’t give up a point in the preseason and that doesn’t mean much. But they did pass the eye test as far as being quicker. I just don’t have any faith in the Ravens offense. For the last couple of years they’ve put the defense in some bad positions. If it was a home opener in Baltimore, I’d probably lean to the Ravens. The defense and special teams are going to have to carry the offense early.

    In one of the matchups of the game, Bengals left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (70, with T.J. Johnson) tries to prevent Terrell Suggs from adding to his Ravens' record sack total.

    Affecting Joe Flacco is the No. 1 key for the Bengals to win this game. Joe may have some rust. The Bengals showed in the preseason they’ve got some rookies who looked solid rushing the passer. It’s not like Joe has this incredible complement of wide receivers, either. He’s barely worked with Jeremy Maclin and never played with him in a game before.

    Defensively, Marvin and Paul know how to study. You’ll see a lot of Greg Roman concepts by the Ravens senior offensive assistant and I expect them to be more conservative. I don’t think Joe Flacco throws more than 22 times, unless the Bengals open a big lead and I’m not sure I really see that. When he drops back the key for the Bengals is to make him uncomfortable because of his long layoff.

    Another key is what the Bengals can do between the tackles in the running game. Can they be respectable up front? Three, four yards a carry? I like Baltimore’s safeties but I don’t think the corners are All-American world beaters and this is where the Bengals could have some success. Having A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert back is so significant. And creative ways to use Joe Mixon out of the backfield combined with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.
    It’s feet to the fire time for the offensive line. It’s long been a Bengals’ strength. Now there are questions. Guys have to answer that bell against the No. 1 defense in the preseason and one of the top last year. Defensive tackle Brandon Williams is so athletic. I saw him doing handstands at the Super Bowl and walking around on his hands. On that type of weight, that’s nuts.

    If the Ravens reach the 37-yard line with kicker Justin Tucker, it’s like you can pencil them in for three points. I talked to Marvin on Sirius and he was very effusive in his praise for Randy Bullock. But he also pointed out that Randy missed that field goal at the end of the preseason. Let’s not forget that was one of the big things that kept the Bengals out of the playoffs last year. Have they truly solved that problem? That’s a legitimate question because it’s probably going to be a close game.

    THE EDGE: BENGALS, 19-15: Playing at home will make a difference. Guys are excited about that. Andy has never opened at home. I worry for the Ravens’ sake that Joe Flacco isn’t going to be truly ready. I’m big on this Bengals team making a play-off run this year. It hurts not to have Tez. It hurts not to have Adam Jones, but I still think they can overcome it and have a good year.

    Randy Bullock opposes the best in the game Sunday.

    DEHNER, Jr.

    Yeah, it is kind of the unknown opener. They Ravens have got a bunch of guys that have been out. No one knows what their offensive line is going to be. No one really knows what the Bengals offensive line is going to be. It’s about half uncertain, half certain on both sides. We know Baltimore’s defense is going to be really good. They proved it in both the preseason and what they’ve done in the past. But nobody knows about that Baltimore offense and no one knows how the kids on this team are going to do. Like all openers right? All openers are eye-openers. Use that.
    I don’t know that having an opener at home maters. This team has been kind of the same home and away over the years. It’s what’s been good about them. They’ve done a good job staying even keel and being pretty much the same team no matter when and where they play. Outside of prime time, of course. I think it helps like it would on a Sunday in November.

    If you look at the strongest thing out there it is probably Baltimore’s defense. However, they don’t have A.J. Green. Nobody knows that better than Baltimore. He’s just destroyed them over the years. Early in the season the Bengals will need the wins to look a lot like the wins last year and that was A.J. just taking over as they try to get on the same page.

    The Bengals are so young in kick coverage and they’ve got the kicker, who knows? Everything has been good. I remember Mike Nugent had a great preseason last year, too, and he ended up having a poor year. All these North games, evenly matched teams, come down to special teams.

    But you know what, though? You look at this first week and we’ll hear so much about how it’s only one game and it’s a long season. When we look back on this in January, there’s a good chance we’re looking back on Houston and Baltimore as the two games that swing it because you’re talking about two teams that probably trying to get a Wild Card.

    THE EDGE: BENGALS, 13-12. Randy Bullock at the gun. Just a slog. One of those they fight and scratch for points. Baltimore is tough, but they find a way to get just enough. And, of course, it ends on the kicker in the clutch.

    One of Cincinnati's summer games is predicting how many carries Joe Mixon gets as a rookie.

    The Bengals have had their number here the last few years. I can’t see any reason why they won’t have their number again his week. I truly think Baltimore might be one of the three worst teams in the AFC. They helped themselves in the back end, but with older guys. You have an offensive line completely in flux. The quarterback says he’s ready, but he doesn’t sound overly confident that he’s ready and he’s an aging guy. Honestly, Steve Smith was still making plays for you last year and you lost that. This is going to sound silly. They may be worse than the Browns.

    If the Bengals were playing the Steelers, it would be the same question about the offensive line. It’s a big matchup but not because of what Baltimore may have. We just don’t know what we have in the Bengals’ front five. I thought they did pretty well in the preseason. There were moments left tackle Ced Ogbuehi seemed overmatched, but I thought as the preseason went along I noticed him less and less. The first team gave up two sacks and one of them right guard Trey Hopkinslooked like he got lost on a stunt and OK, it’s early, but I thought he developed pretty well. At least from what you saw in training camp you don’t go, ‘Oh gosh, you’re in big trouble.’ I think you go in saying, ‘All right, I just need to see it in real competition to know if I can believe it or not.’ Bengals fans are holding their breath. Is it going to be a team that gives up four, five six, sacks a week? I didn’t see that in the preseason.

    The Bengals are used to playing without Vontaze Burfict. I don’t completely agree with people who said Adam Jones began to show his age a little last year. I wasn’t one of them. I thought Adam had a pretty decent year. But I thought what you saw of William Jackson in the preseason, ‘OK, let’s see what he can in do in the regular season,’ because I thought he did a really good job.

    To me it comes down to the Bengals pass rush. What they’ve done in the offseason, now when you go your nickel looks you’ve got legitimate pass rushers out there. You’ve got a lot of different combinations. I like what they’ve done with end Michael Johnson in the middle. It gives you a chance to put someone with his length and speed; you can rotate whoever you want. Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson. Mix and match those guys. I think that makes you a better pass rushing team. You’re playing a quarterback that’s not very mobile and an offensive line having issues. You get them in a lot of third-and-longs on Sunday and I think the Bengals pass rush has a field day.

    THE EDGE: BENGALS, 27-16. I just think Baltimore, offensively, is going to have a hard time getting much sustained. They keep talking about a better running game, but I have to see it to believe it. You’ve got a QB that hasn’t played in the preseason and the offensive line … I think the Bengals get off to a very comfortable start.

    You really have to say it’s the most anticipated opener at home in the Green-Dalton Era since it is the first one in their seven seasons. But it’s going to be decided by the kids and the grizzled defensive coordinator. Like the kids up front on the offensive line and on the defensive line and a rookie like running back Joe Mixon. And a defensive coordinator like Paul Guenther, who seems to always have his way with Jersey Shore golf partner Joe Flacco.

    Look, no one runs the ball on Baltimore. But if they can manage something like 85 yards on 30 carries, that may be enough to keep the behemoths off Dalton and Green. All they need is a shot. When Eifert got hurt on the ninth snap of the season in Baltimore, Green saved them with 131 yards. When Eifert couldn’t play in last year’s opener in New York, Green grounded the Jets on 180 yards. When they were both available in the 2015 opener in Oakland, they rolled up 33 points. Eifert didn’t have a catch in Green’s monster 224-yard game in Baltimore in ’15, but just his presence made it possible.

    (Think it means something that Green and Eifert are back together again? In the three games they played together last year, they averaged 26 points compared to 20 for the season.)

    Also, keep an eye on slot receiver Tyler Boyd, one of the most improved Bengals. The Ravens’ top two slot corners are out and No. 3 safety Lardarius Webb is expected to get the call and Boyd may be able to excel in that matchup.

    But with left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi and right tackle Jake Fisher making their second and fourth NFL starts at those spots respectively, you can’t jack it up there 30 times against a speedy and accomplished Ravens defense. They’ll have to put all hands on deck in the running game and that’s why we’re assuming running back Jeremy Hill is still here. If you’re committed to the run, three backs are a necessity and not a luxury and they take the heat off the line.

    Flacco just returned to practice this week after missing all of the preseason with a herniated disc and that’s just not a great way to prepare for Guenther, even if his band of rushers are green as the PBS turf. Flacco is not only 1-4 against him, but he’s thrown just four touchdowns while getting picked off six times and barely averaging six yards per throw.

    Of course, the thinking is we’ll see a different Flacco. No doubt they’ll max protect and pound the football. After all, the man has a bad back and has no chemistry with his new top target, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. Although Guenther has to be gun shy of Maclin and the 148-yard game he had at PBS in ’15 for the Chiefs.

    The Ravens have been emphasizing the run and for good reason. The passing game may not click until October. And the Bengals are still feeling around for a stopper in Domata Peko’s old nose tackle spot

    Pat Sims, the old war horse who was here the last time they opened at home when they held Denver to 75 yards rushing and two field goals for 59:49, is looking to bottle his magic against the run. But he’ll need help off the bench with tackles taking their first NFL snaps in Andrew Billingsand Ryan Glasgow.

    And they’ll have to be as stout as Baltimore because of kicker Justin Tucker. They don’t want to find themselves in a game like last year at PBS, when they threw it 48 times, ran it 20 and got beat, 19-14, because Tucker hit three bombs from 52, 54, and 57. (Note: Baltimore ran it 30 times for 92 yards. If the Bengals do that Sunday, they’ll win, 19-14.)


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