Gridiron Gab Week Two Preview: Baltimore at Cincinnati

Match-up: Ravens (1-0) @ Bengals (0-1)

Date: Sunday Sept. 19

Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium (The Jungle)

The Ravens have to be happy being 1-0 especially coming back from the offensive turnovers last Monday versus the NY Jets. The defense played possessed and executed a discipline approach in the red-zone.  QB Joe Flacco and the offense kept their composure and made some critical first downs with the help of WR Anquan Boldin.

The Bengals won’t be in a good mood after losing to New England in their first game. However, the Bengals did show the ability to pass for big gains and scored points. This is the Bengals home opener and they will be fired up, looking to make a statement especially on defense.

QUICK KEY POINTS:

1.  Intensity: Can the Ravens come into this game on a short week on the road again. Can they take the field with same amount of intensity as they did against the Jets?

2.  Secondary: How will the Ravens secondary stand up to the Bengals QB Carson Palmer and the playmakers: WR OchoCinco, WR Terrell Owens, TE Jermaine Gresham?

3.  Ravens Run D: Can the Ravens Defense stop the running game of Cedric Benson?  Benson took over the game(s) in the previous two meetings. The Ravens front seven must contain the rushing attack.

4.  Ravens Run Blocking: The Ravens running game was sub-par last week. How does the offensive line respond facing another capable defensive front? Getting Ray Rice involved early and often will be of importance.

CHALK IT UP:

Ravens Defense:

Pass rush: OLB Terrell Suggs is looking much quicker and will be counted on to apply pressure on QB Carson Palmer.  Look for the Ravens to continue their pressure packages throughout the game.

Run D: The Ravens last year were ran over by the running game of Cedric Benson and this year a focus for the team is to tighten up the run defense. The team drafted DT Terrence Cody and signed veteran DE Cory Redding, both are an upgrade and improve the team’s chances against the Bengals. NT Haloti Ngata will be a critical player in this game.

Secondary: CB Chris Carr and CB Fabian Washington fared well against the Jets, but they face a much more talented receiving core this week. Although QB Carson Palmer didn’t start out well in his first game he did finish strong and put up 345 yards of passing.  His play makers WR Terrell Owens , WR OchoCinco, WR Andre Caldwell, TE Jermaine Gresham and WR Shipley are serious threats.

Nickel Package:Haruki Nakamura is playing well in the Nickel package. The Bengals have more than a few play makers however, so look for CB Josh Wilson to get more playing time this week.

Ravens Offense:

Tight Coverage:The Bengals cornerbacks Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph could be two of best cornerbacks in the league, they provide tight coverage. Joe Flacco can’t force the issue trying to gamble on passes.

In this game check downs are not a bad option. Anquan Boldin, however is a physical receiver and he should be able to get separation with the underneath routes.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh (former Bengal) has his first game under his belt as a Raven and now will look to make a statement in this game.

Pass Protection:The Bengals will be determined to get pressure on Flacco because they didn’t against Tom Brady last week– the Bengals will be ready to bring the heat. The Ravens pass protection did well against the Jets heavy blitz schemes, they will need to do the same again.

Ravens Rushing Attack: DE Robert Geathers, LB Rey Maualuga LB Dhani Jones are the Bengals top players versus the run. The Ravens offensive line must have a better performance opening up lanes for Ray Rice. Don’t rule out an unbalanced line again in this game. The team is set with having Marshal Yanda at right tackle and Chris Chester as guard.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

RB Benson vs. Ravens D-Line: This is really the key to the game. Ravens cannot allow Cedric Benson to dominate the game like he did in both match-ups last season. Haloti Ngata and company must control the line of scrimmage.

Tom Zbikowski vs. QB Carson Palmer:Zibby will need to help take control of the secondary.  He cannot over commit to the run and be out of position. The Bengals play-action-pass is effective and the Ravens safeties must be disciplined.

Ravens Secondary vs. Bengals receivers: While the Ravens have their work cut out for them covering WR’s OchoCinco, Terrell Owens, Andre Caldwell and rookie Jordon Shipley, they cannot lose track of the talented rookie TE Jermaine Gresham. Gresham NFL debut included 6 rec. one of those was for a TD.

LT Oher vs. DE Odom:Left tackle Michael Oher will face a good pass rusher in Antwan Odom.

WR’s Boldin, Houshmandzadeh, Mason vs. CB Hall & CB Joseph: Some great receivers and the opponents have two excellent cornerbacks.  Like the Jets game, how will the Bengals deal with all the Raven’s play makers?

WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM?

Jonathan Scruggs: “I’m gonna go with Terrell Suggs”

“The key to beating the Bengals this week is getting to Carson Palmer early and often. If the Ravens defense can bring pressure the Bengals high powered passing game will grind to a halt.”

Gene Winner: “Time for Cory Redding!”

“DE Cory Redding has got a feel for the defense after having his first regular season game under his belt. T-Sizzle Suggs will draw more attention and that will open up some one-on-one match-ups for Redding.”

Matt Jergensen: T.J. Houshmandzadeh

“T.J. has been playing some catch up trying to get up to speed with the Ravens playbook but he should see more snaps than he did in Week One. He could be a huge factor in the passing game as he faces his old teammates.”

Ravens Injury Status:

TE Todd Heap has a sore shoulder and might not play on Sunday. Even if Heap does see some game time, the rookie tight end Ed Dickson will most likely be on the field.

CB Lardarius Webb: He was taken off the injury report, which is a great sign (offseason knee surgery).  If Webb dose see playing time it will mostly be in the Nickel package.

DT Terrence Cody recovering from a knee procedure may be ready for his debut.


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