Taking Care Of Business
With the Wild Card spot wrapped up, the Ravens still have a slim chance of winning the division. The Ravens must beat Cincinnati and hope (by some miracle) Pittsburgh loses to Cleveland to win the division. The Ravens finally beat an elite quarterback this year, when they handed Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints a loss in Baltimore. Now another hurdle stands in there way, Carson Palmer and the Cincinnati Bengals. Palmer has had his share of success against the Ravens. The Ravens look to finish out strong with win at home and take care of business against Carson Palmer.
This has not been a good year for Bengals, however of late they are playing well. QB Carson Palmer has been hot and cold with 25 TD passes and 3665 passing yards. Palmer has been sacked 26 times and has thrown 18 interceptions on the season. Recent injuries to Terrell Owens (leading receiver) and Chad Ochocinco has opened up opportunities for veteran Andre Caldwell and third year receiver Jerome Simpson who has excelled. Rookie WR Jordon Shipley (50 rec., 831 yards, 4 TD.‘s) has been a pleasant surprise and standout rookie TE Jermaine Gresham has proven a good draft choice as the third leading receiver (52 rec., 471 yards, 4 TD’s,). Running back Cedric Benson poses a threat with 1058 yards rushing with 7 TD.‘s. Benson has a 3.5 yard average and 7 fumbles (5 lost) on the season. The Bengals rank 22nd in points scored (21.0), 13th in passing yards (230.8) and 26th in rushing yards (95.5)
Defensively the team has had some injuries in the secondary this season. CB Adam Jones was placed on injured reserve in late October. Jonathan Joseph has only played in 11 games this season. Leon Hall has been the only corner to play a full season. Safety Chinedum Ndukwe was place on injured reserve (Dec.). Veteran SS Roy Williams has also missed some games with injuries. The playmakers up front include LB Dhani Jones (leading tackler 121), LB Keith Rivers LB Rey Maualuga, DT Domata Peko. Rookie DE Carlos Dunlap is playing well with and is the sack leader with 8 on the season. The unit ranks 25th in points allowed (25.5), 18th in passing yards (224.5) and 20th in rushing yards allowed (116.3).
QB Joe Flacco & Ravens receivers vs. CB’s Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph: Flacco hasn’t played all that great versus the Bengals secondary. He had 4 INT’s in the first match-up this year. Heading into the playoffs it will be important for Flacco and his receivers to have some success against a good cornerback tandem.
RB Ray Rice vs. LB Dhani Jones: The Ravens want to continue to get Rice revved up for the playoffs. Dhani Jones is the leading tackler on the team. Of late: The Bengals rush defense held San Diego to 64 yards rushing last Sunday and the week before held Peyton Hillis to 59 yards rushing.
OLB Suggs vs. LT Andrew Whitworth: The Bengals left tackle has played in all 15 games this year. T-Sizzle can’t let Palmer get comfortable in the pocket.
RB Cedric Benson vs. Front 7: Benson poses a threat. Look for the Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and the front seven to make a statement by finishing strong at home.
CB Josh Wilson vs. Andre Caldwell/Ochocinco: Who knows if Ochocinco will play. Either way Caldwell and Ochocinco have had success against the Ravens secondary.
CB Lardarius Webb vs. WR Jerome Simpson: The 3d year receiver is lighting it up. Last week he had 6 receptions for 124 yards and a TD.
CB Ed Reed vs. QB Palmer: Ed Reed had 2 interceptions against the Browns and he must contain Palmer’s passing attack.
WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM
Jonathan Scruggs: Terrell Suggs
“The Ravens have historically struggled against the Bengals, but in the few instances where they’ve dominated, it’s been when the defensive ends have gotten to Carson Palmer. Terrell will have to have a career day to ensure that the Bengals are put to bed quietly and quickly.”
Matt Jergensen: Joe Flacco
“The Ravens will stick to the run but Flacco must continue to make big throws when needed. This is a chance for Joe to atone for one of his worst showings as a professional. If the Ravens hope to make a deep run, Flacco must be more than a manager and must up his games against the league’s better defenses and offenses.”
Gene Winner: Anquan Boldin
“We haven’t seen Boldin get into the mix for quite a while. Time for Cam Cameron to take some chances over the middle.”