Week 1 Preview: Bengals vs. Ravens

| September 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

ravens harborWeek 1 Preview: Ravens vs Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals

At

Baltimore Ravens

Line: Ravens -1

Sunday 1pm, M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore MD

You wouldn’t know it by the hot and humid weather we are having, but football is back this Sunday in Charm City as the Ravens open the 2014 season at home against division rival Cincinnati.  Both teams are familiar with each other and despite the changes in personnel for both teams, they should be fully prepared. The Ravens are looking to bounce back after missing the playoffs for the first time in the Harbaugh/Flacco era, while the Bengals are trying to take that next step from playoff team to Super Bowl contender. It is a new season and nobody knows what to expect, but one of these teams will get a huge division win to start the season. Who will that be?

Here is my take on the game:

Bengals offense vs Ravens defense:

On paper this looks like a total mismatch. The Ravens secondary is banged up and they will be facing one of the top three wide receivers in the league in AJ Green. However, it takes someone to get the ball to Green and I am not an Andy Dalton believer.  Dalton has 6 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his career against the Ravens and struggles in division games with an 8-10 record in his career.

The Ravens defensive front seven should be improved and much better against the run. If the Ravens can stop Gio Bernard and put the game in Andy Dalton’s hands they should be just fine. AJ Green is the man but Marvin Jones is out which leaves the Bengals receiving corps thin and not overly talented. The key will be how much pressure the Ravens get on Dalton and stopping Gio Bernard.  The Ravens defense should be much improved from last year but the secondary issues still scare me.

Advantage: Even

Ravens offense vs Bengals defense:

The Ravens offense was flat out awful last season and the Bengals bring a more than formidable defense into M&T Bank stadium Sunday.  The addition of Gary Kubiak and a healthy Dennis Pitta, Marshall Yanda and Kelechi Osemele should help Joe Flacco bounce back and make the offense better.

We have seen the Bengals defense shut down the Ravens offense in most of the previous matchups of late and it is very likely the running game will be nonexistent on Sunday, leaving the success of the offense on the arm of Joe Flacco. Not exactly hard hitting analysis here, but if the offensive line can protect Joe Flacco and give him time to throw the ball he will have success against this defense. I look for a big game from Dennis Pitta and a few big plays from the offense.

Advantage: Even

Special Teams:

Two words are all that are needed: Justin Tucker. Optimus Nine, Legamus Prime, whatever nicknames you want to give him; Tucker is one of the top kickers in the league and gives the Ravens a weapon that not a ton of teams have.  These two teams are division rivals and usually play very close games and Sunday’s game could easily come down to special teams and field position. If it does, I like the Ravens a lot.

Advantage: Ravens

Prediction:

Week 1 of the NFL is the hardest week to handicap as you can’t really pay attention to anything you saw in the preseason. Teams that are “supposed” to be good are often bad and vice versa. Opening with a division opponent is big for both teams as neither team wants to lose a division game early.  This game is coin flip but I will take Joe Flacco over Andy Dalton, the home field advantage and a Ravens victory.

Ravens 23 Bengals 17.

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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