Week 9: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals
Sunday November 8, 2009 1:05 PM
Line: Ravens -3.0
One step at a time. That’s the mantra being pumped out from the Castle front office. No game is more important than another, each team must be handled as they come, there is no such thing as a must win. A slow dull drum beat. The Ravens came out of the bye with a 3-3 record. They needed a win desperately, and despite what anyone in the organization might have stated, it wasn’t just another game. It was a flat out, no holds barred, must win. Lose and the Ravens’ chances of making the playoffs would be all but non existent. One step at a time. The Ravens came out guns blazing and stomped all over the previously undefeated Broncos. The Offense’s game plan was executed perfectly, and the Defense managed to regain its swagger.
This week the Ravens have the unenviable task of heading into Paul Brown Stadium to face off against their white hot division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. Three weeks ago, the Bengals embarrassed the Ravens at home with a last minute touchdown drive sparked by a series of absolutely sickening defensive penalties. This week Baltimore looks to exact its revenge. One step at a time. You’ve been hearing it all week. This is just another game, it’s a divisional opponent, we treat each contest the same. Don’t believe the hype. The Ravens MUST win this game. Failure to do so would make a mountain out of a molehill in their quest to win the division.
With that in mind let’s take a look at this week’s match up.
RavensGab.com Keys to the Game
Keep the Fire Going
Last week against the Denver Broncos the Ravens’ Defense regained its identity. Hard hits, solid coverage, great penetration all helped the unit put the game away even as the Offense was slow to get the ball rolling.
To beat the Bengals, the Ravens will have to step it up a notch and bring the same amount of punishing hits and quarterback pressure. In the first meeting, the Ravens had a lot of trouble getting to Carson Palmer, and it allowed him to exploit the secondary all day long. To win on Sunday they will have to find a way to play like they did against the Broncos and bring the pain.
Throw the Darn Ball
Although I think a big part of beating the Bengals this week will be ball control and the run game, the Bengals have the 28th ranked Pass Defense in the NFL. We all know what Joe Flacco can do with his arm when given the time, so why not let him air it out a bit and hit receivers like Kelley Washington, Todd Heap, and Mark Clayton. Although I don’t think Derrick Mason will struggle against the Bengals as he did in the first meeting, I still respect Leon Hall enough to know that Mason is going to be covered soundly for most of the game.
Possess the Ball
The Ravens really stepped it up in this department last week against the Broncos. The Offense came out with their modified no-huddle package and just wore the Broncos’ Defense down with solid runs and short yardage passes. It was the perfect scheme to beat Denver. With no Defense, the Broncos were forced to rely on Kyle Orton to make things happen. Orton’s not particularly well known for doing that which allowed Baltimore’s linebackers and safeties to have a field day.
Beating the Bengals starts here. Priority number one must be to keep Carson Palmer off the field. The Defense will have to do its job, but the Offense can help a great deal by keeping their hands on the ball for as many long sustained drives as possible.
Keep Chad OchoCinco, Andre Cladwell & Chris Henry In Front of You
The Ravens did an excellent job of keeping the Denver wide receivers in front of them all day. This allowed for better pressure attacks from the linebackers and allowed Ed Reed to flow like a missile all over the field.
The Ravens have consistently been cut up badly by the Bengals potent offense. To beat the talented wide receivers, Foxworth, Reed, Washington and Landry have got to keep their man in front of them where they can be bottled up and contained. Getting burned on the outside is how Cincinnati beat Baltimore so soundly in the last meeting.
Mix up the Running Attack
We all know that Ray Rice is a beast. He is the most solid all purpose weapon in the NFL. But just because he’s hot, and undeniably talented, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to some of your other weapons. Le’Ron McClain is a human freight train. Use him to wear down the Cincy defense and provide a change of pace to speedy Rice. Willis McGahee is a combination of McClain and Rice and should be used to keep the Bengals Defense on their toes and guessing as to what’s coming next.
Getting stagnant will only allow good teams to beat you. Staying creative is the only way to win at the top levels of the NFL.
Contain Cedric Benson
For the Ravens’ Defense, this has to be their personal Alamo. Cedric Benson did what no other running back in almost five years did by cutting up the field for 100+ Yards. He made this Defense look foolish, and his ability to run roughshod allowed Carson Palmer to not only keep drives alive, but also hit his wide open receivers.
I will make this very clear. The Ravens absolutely cannot win this game if they fail to contain Cedric Benson.
Ravens 23 – Bengals 20