Keys to the Game: Cincinnati @ Baltimore

Week 11: Cincinnati Bengals

Sunday November 20, 2011 1:05PM

Line: Ravens -7 O/U 40.5

Just when you thought it was safe to assume anything about the Baltimore Ravens… terror returns to 1 Winning Drive. The Ravens had the football world in their hands after beating the Pittsburgh Steelers and flushed it all entirely down the drain in losing to the Seahawks. But that was last week, and this is a whole new ballgame. The Bengals are one of the surprise hot teams in the league this season and their riding into town looking for redemption after dropping a close one to the Steelers last weekend. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this week’s keys to the game.

RavensGab.com Keys to the Game

Bring the pressure

One of the big mistakes the Ravens made against the Seahawks was failing to dial up the pressure and force a sub par quarterback into making mistakes. That can’t happen against the Bengals. Thing is, Andy Dalton is a much better player than Tavaris Jackson, so if the Ravens fail to bring the heat and get after him, he more than has the talent to make this team pay and run up the numbers.

Put Dalton on his back and fluster him into throwing picks. I know it’s easier said than done but it has to happen this week if the Ravens are going to win.

Limit the Mistakes

It’s easy to pin last week’s loss entirely on David Reed’s shoulders (and heck it’s fun too) but it wasn’t entirely his fault. That said, if you take away his repeated mistakes the Ravens likely win the game and emerge as 7-2 instead of 6-3. Mental mistakes have been drowning any potential this Ravens squad manages to put together.

The Bengals always play the Ravens tough, and the key to beating them this weekend will be limiting the stupid mistakes that have plagued them in the past.

Bring down Benson

Let’s call a spade a spade here, Marshawn Lynch played out of his mind last week against the Ravens. He got his momentum going down hill, and after that he was unstoppable. The Ravens cannot afford to let the same thing happen with Cedric Benson on Sunday. He’s too good, too strong and too steady to allow that to happen.

Benson owned the Ravens last year, so if they have any hope of keeping this game out of reach, Benson needs to be bottled up and brought to the ground. Force Cincy to pass on you, that’s how you beat them.

RUN THE DAMN BALL

You know what the Ravens have that no other team in he league has? Ray Rice. You know what else the Ravens have that no other team in the league has? Vontae Leach. Those are two of the premier offensive players in the league, and for some reason, Cam Cameron has decided to ignore them entirely and leave them sitting on the bench. It’s like having a bazooka in your arsenal but electing to attack your opponent with a pistol instead. It doesn’t make sense.

Yes, the Bengals have a very stout run defense, yes their front seven is arguably one of the most talented in the league, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be running the ball down their throats. It’s how you beat Pittsburgh and it’s how you beat this team.

Find a Way to Win

I‘m going to bring this back from the Pitt matchup two weeks ago because I think it’s apt once again. Pittsburgh, New England, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Green Bay, all of the truly great teams over the last few years just seem to find a way to win. At times it’s as if they will themselves to victory. The Ravens have been close to this level but have never found a way to figure it out. The game this weekend is going to be tough, it’s going to be nasty, and it’s going to be a dog fight. If the Ravens are to sneak one out, they’re going to have to find a way to just win.

Ravens Gab Predictions

Jonathon Scruggs (5-4)

The Bengals are the Achilles heel to the Ravens, have been for some time now. I think the Ravens win here but it’s in the last minute of the game. I won’t see it though because I’ll have had a stroke by that point.

Ravens 17 — Bengals 16

Matt Jergensen (5-4)

Fans talk about the Steelers being the main nemesis of this team but the Bengals run a close second. They match up well and do not seem to be fazed by the physicality that Baltimore can bring. The Bengals have some key injuries with Leon Hall done for the year and rookie A.J. Green a game-time decision. The Ravens may be without defensive leader Ray Lewis for the first time since 2007. This 2011 edition of the Ravens has shown us that they are a different team at home where they are 5-0. I expect that to continue though just barely.

Ravens 21 – Bengals 17

Gene Winner (6-3)

It is real hard to think the Ravens can win when they are so inconsistent. On offense it remains totally baffling that Ray Rice isn’t getting enough touches. On defense they need to get back to wreaking havoc. Cincinatti’s defensive line poses a real challenge for the Ravens offensive line.  If the Ravens weren’t at home I wouldn’t pick them to win.

Ravens 24 – Bengals 23


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