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12/31/17 Bengals Pregame

All week long the Baltimore sports airwaves have been proclaiming, “Win and you’re in”. The Ravens have control of their destiny and one would think that both players and coaches alike will be hyper focused on getting this win. That said, should the Ravens lose they still have ways to get into the playoffs. No one at the Castle wants to leave themselves at the mercy of what other teams do or don’t do – but a Raven’s loss might not be the end of the world. With a Titans or Bills loss or tie the Ravens would win the tie breaker and get into playoffs. The Ravens genuinely seem focused on this game and it would be a surprise to see them given anything less than 110% effort. Despite the Bengals poor 2017 season, no one who knows football thinks that this is going to be a walk away win. The Bengals play well against the Ravens and they would like nothing more than to humble them. There are several reasons why I think we will get the Bengal’s best effort, some of which are:

  • This is Marvin’s last game coaching the Bengals, so the players will want to win for the Gipper
  • The Bengals genuinely hate the Ravens and would love to play the spoiler
  • The Bengals would like revenge for the embarrassing home loss in week one where they were shut out
  • A J Green was held to 5 receptions and 74 yards (no TDs) in game one – he wants to score this week in a bad way
  • Bengals would like to redeem what has been an unremarkable season by ending with a signature win
  • Bengals have won 6 of the last 8 head to head contests

For those of you keeping track you may recall in my write up for the Texans game where I provided my win/loss predictions for the rest of the season.  So far I have been spot on. I predicted wins against the Texans, Lions, Browns and Colts; and a loss against the Steelers and the Bengals – finishing 9 and 7. I always feel a little nervous when we play divisional teams because team tendencies seem to change when they play familiar foes. Statistically, the Bengals are a bad team.  Offensively they are ranked dead last in yards per game, 31st in rushing yards, and 28th in points per game. Defensively, they are ranked 31st in rushing yards given up, and 20th overall on yards per game.  There secondary is decent and ranks 7th in passing yardage. Bengals are minus 7 in takeaways versus the Raven’s leagued leading plus 17, and if this trend holds true this Sunday you have to like the Ravens in this one.

Sunday’s game is shaping up to be a Chilly Bowl with game time temperatures likely in the high teens. Games in the frigid cold weather suck the life out of the softer players so we will soon see who has the tougher team. Injuries tend to increase as well in colder games as the ground is like concrete.  Marty Mornhinweg has not consulted me on the game plan for the Bengals but looking at the stats above it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that we should probably run the ball 30 or more times.  If our O line can do their job and open up some holes we should be able to play possession football and keep the Bengals defense on the field.  I would like to see at least 5 drives of 5 plus minutes from the Ravens. Hopefully Collins can protect the ball in the cold weather and not cough it up.  The Ravens defense needs to stop the run and get pressure on Dalton just like they did in week one.  You can’t give Dalton 3 or 4 seconds to throw, if you do Green will have a career day against the Ravens. Coach Pees will need to do a better job making adjustments in game to get pressure.

When I made my prediction for this game back in November we were still questioning the Ravens offense.  Now that the Ravens are putting together more consistent and respectable offensive numbers I will change my prediction for the Ravens to win this one 27 to 23. The Ravens have scored 23 points or more for the past 8 games but I think they will need more than 23 to win Sunday.  Vegas has the Ravens by 9 ½ points but I would be shocked if the Ravens covered that.  We squeaked by the Colts and Bengals are a much better team in my opinion. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Cincinnati Bengals hosted by the Baltimore Ravens Sunday, December 31st at 4:25 PM Odds Ravens by 9 ½

Game Predictions
Score Ravens 27 Bengals 23
Turnovers Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage Ravens 130 Bengals 91
Net Passing Yardage Ravens 204 Bengals 201

Miscellaneous Predictions

  • Collins and Allen combine for 30 carries for 125 yards
  • Ravens burn 2 time outs because they don’t have a play ready
  • Dalton scrambles and runs 6 times for 42 yards
  • Refs make terrible calls

Possible Monday morning headlines

  • Kansas City here we come!

Keys to the Game

  • Pressure Dalton like you did in game 1
  • Contain A J Green and Bernard
  • Win turnover battle

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