Two AFC North teams sit at 1-0 after Week 1 and they meet each other in a divisional matchup in Week 2. Three things to know before Bengals-Ravens on Thursday Night Football…
1. It’s hard to remember the last time a defensive line embarrassed an offensive line as badly as Baltimore’s embarrassed Buffalo’s in Week 1. Now the Ravens are facing a retooled Cincy O-line that’s very much a work in progress. Cordy Glenn has stabilized things at left tackle (we think…maybe we should withhold judgement until after he sees Terrell Suggs) but the other four spots are in question. Rookie center Billy Price was burdened with some difficult assignments in the zone running game against Indy. Baltimore will present the same challenges. The right side of the line—guard Alex Redmon and tackle Bobby Hart—must show better quickness off the snap. They’ll also need strong anchors Thursday; the Ravens D-line relies primarily on power.
2. It looks like an all new Ravens offense this year. The two-QB packages with Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson might be what viewers notice, but the real creativity is in Baltimore’s two-tight end passing game. Even with first-round rookie tight end Hayden Hurst out injured, the Ravens have expanded their formations and aerial concepts here.
3. Creative aerial designs will be important all year because Baltimore’s receiving corps is mediocre at best. Michael Crabtree looked sluggish for much of last Sunday and, early on, he struggled with drops—an affliction that plagued him in Oakland. The Bengals are a zone-based D, but their corners prospered when given man-to-man assignments in Indy. They should go after Crabtree and the diminutive receiver John Brown with physical press-man coverage.
Lamar Jackson will throw a deep pass early in the game. The Ravens will be eager to pull off their new tricks with him after getting nothing from the 2-QB tactic (gimmick?) last week.
Score prediction: Ravens 20, Bengals 12
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