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After their one-point loss to the Green Bay Packers last week, the 8-6 Baltimore Ravens dropped out of first place of the AFC North, now on the bubble as the 8th AFC playoff seed, and injured QB Lamar Jackson (ankle) is still questionable to play, but HC John Harbaugh’s banged-up roster is facing the divisional rival Bengals and a win here could change everything.
The 8-6 Cincinnati Bengals sit atop the AFC North and QB Joe Burrow’s 11th ranked passing offense including WRs Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and TE C.J. Uzomah are ready to outmaneuver this injured Ravens secondary, the goal being to beat Baltimore for the second time this season, but Cincy’s 16th ranked defense must step up and contain the Ravens’ QB.
These two AFC North rivals have played each other 51 other times, with the Cincinnati Bengals winning 24 of those games and the Baltimore Ravens winning 27 of the games.
In Week 14, Ravens starting QB Lamar Jackson left the game against Cleveland hobbling with an injured ankle and he has not been back ever since, his backup Tyler Huntley filling in and doing an excellent job staying just as mobile and tough to tackle as his talented predecessor.
Huntley is a second year pro who stands at 6’ 1” and weighs 196 pounds, his speed and accurate arm combining into a dual threat weapon out of the backfield, this season with 86 completions for 743 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 29 carries for 168 yards and two TDs.
With this type of depth at the quarterback position, Baltimore does not loose too much production with Jackson being out, so the Bengals defense will still have to face a mobile and evasive QB who has the arm strength and skill to hurt them with the deep ball.
No matter who ends up under center for the Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals pass rush has the same job at hand, to contain the edge so that the QB cannot escape out the sides of the pocket and rush the middle, so he has no avenue forward to gain yards and first downs.
Watch for Cincy DEs Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson to have a big game as DTs Larry Ogunjobi and NT DJ Reader stuff the middle of the line, their squad with tied for the third most sacks on opposing quarterbacks this season with 40.
If you can take away Baltimore’s threat of QB rushing, they are forced to hurt you with their other playmakers, and since so many of them are either banged up or out for the season, that could be the better way to go, and Cincinnati DC Lou Anarumo no doubt knows this.
It’s only Marquise Brown’s third NFL season, but already he is a major part of this Ravens’ passing attack, the deep threat Oklahoma alum a constant pain in the side of opposing secondaries since his routes often require double-teams to cover him.
Brown is not huge – 5’ 9” and 180 pounds – but he still somehow manages to earn yards after the catch, his route running improving in each of his pro seasons, this year with 80 catches for 909 yards and 6 TDs, stats even more impressive given the Ravens love of the run game.
Check out Brown in the second half once the Ravens’ have their rushing attack established and his deep route running begins to get single man coverage, because that is when Baltimore tends to take some shots and the Bengals’ secondary could find themselves beaten.
One of the many pleasant surprises that has come out of the 2021 Bengals season is the play of tight end C.J. Uzomah, the Auburn alum now in his seventh NFL season who is turning heads with his Gronk-like ability to get open, catch balls, and become difficult to tackle and take down.
Uzomah has great size for a tight end at 6’ 6” and 260 pounds, but he moves fast for a big man and has hands soft enough to catch 80 percent of the balls he is targeted with, right now with 40 catches for 425 yards and 5 touchdowns on the season.
Watch for Uzomah whenever the Bengals get in the red zone, his height and brutish power making him the ideal target for jump balls, and QB Joe Burrow does a great job at balancing between his tight end and his deep threat receiver Ja’Marr Chase, a fun offense to see work.
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|Ravens vs Bengals Information|
|What||Baltimore Ravens vs Cincinnati Bengals|
|Where||Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH|
|When||Sunday, December 26, 2021; 1:00 PM ET|
|How to watch||CBS|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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