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11/10/19 Ravnes vs. Bengals

The Ravens take their four-game winning streak on the road to face the winless Cincinnati Bengals who are in the midst of their worst season in recent history. You have to wonder if Marvin Lewis is sitting at home having a little snicker at the woes of this Bengals team. Sunday’s game will feature the first career start for Ryan Finley who was the 4th round draft pick for the Bengals this past May. With the season virtually over, the Bengals have decided to bench the veteran Dalton in favor of the rookie Finley to see what he can do as well as to give him some game experience when there is very little on the line. Personally, I think this is great move and gives the Bengals an opportunity to audition their new draft pick to see if he has the skill and metal to make it in the NFL. For those of you unfamiliar with Finley, he was the fifth highest graded QB in the draft and was the 6th QB taken in the 2019 draft. He played for both Boise State and North Carolina, and while he doesn’t have the strongest arm from this year’s QB class – he is touted as being an accurate passer that has good field vision. He did well in preseason and looked poised when he was on the field. That said, the regular season is a far cry from preseason so we will have to see how well Finley adjusts to the speed and complexity of an NFL game.

The Ravens are stacking wins and they need to keep the winning streak going so they can keep the Steelers chasing. The Steelers have found new life behind a good defense and serviceable offense. With their win Sunday, the Steelers are now at 4 and 4, and their schedule for the next eight games looks pretty light. Except for the Rams and Ravens, the Steelers have a cream puff schedule and they have a decent chance to be in the playoff hunt come December. The Ravens on the other hand will have some very tough opponents down the stretch and it is hard to imagine that they will win them all. After the Bengals, they will see Texans, Rams, Niners and Bills – oh my. I bring this all up just to say that the Ravens need to take care of business to maintain their lead in the division – which begins with beating the Bengals Sunday and showing the same energy that they showed against the Pats. To use an oft used sports cliché, “you have to win the games you are supposed to” – and that begins Sunday. The Bengals game, in my opinion, is the easiest game on their remaining schedule. They need to focus on the game in front of them and not look past anyone. I am always nervous when the Ravens have a big win, because they sometimes take the foot off the pedal and let inferior teams get the better of them. I want to see them play like their hair is on fire.

By the numbers, the game Sunday should be a beat down. Here is the good, the bad and ugly for the Bengals

The Good:

Coming off a bye week & playing on the home turf
Possibly getting your star receiver AJ Green back on the field, as well as some others on defense
One of the best Special Teams play in the league
Bengals are 11 and 3 at home against the Ravens

The Bad:

Ranked dead last against the run, and playing the number one ranked rushing offense
Ranked dead last is rushing offense at 59.7 ypg, and playing the number two rushing defense

The Ugly:

Offense averages just 15.5 points per game
Defense has only 9 sacks so far this year – only Atlanta has less

If I was game planning the Bengals, I would use the same formula that was used three weeks ago. Run the ball down their throats 40+ times and run up he score early. I would run Ingram, Edwards and Hill hard and if they are effective, I would limit Lamar’s runs to keep him fresh down the road. The Ravens are facing a rookie quarterback and should be able to pressure him and force him into some mistakes. If the Ravens are not plus two in the turnover category for this game, I will be disappointed. One concern to take note is that teams that beat the Patriots routinely have a terrible record the following game. Bengals are 6 and 3 against the Ravens at home, but that was with Marvin at the helm, and Flacco under center who always had a tough time beating the Bengals. It just feels different now with the Bengals and that is good thing.

Coach Harbaugh is a smart guy and I have no doubts he will make sure his team is ready to play. Bengals are getting some guys back this Sunday and that will make them a tougher opponent. The Ravens are likely going to play to a partially filled stadium, and you will hear the Ravens Nation during big plays. Crowd noise should not be an issue whatsoever for the Ravens offense. I expect the Bengals to come out running to help Finley get comfortable and to keep him steady. Ravens will have to be ready to stop the run and force the Bengals to beat them in the air. As the Bengals have nothing to lose, I would not be surprised if they faked kicks and punts, go for it on 4th down, and make some deep throws down the field. Taking risks should not be an obstacle for them given their record. The Ravens will stay the course that has carried them to this point – run the ball, burn the clock and execute in the RedZone. Play clean football and don’t hurt yourself with penalties. If they do that and protect the ball this game should be over by the end of the 3rd quarter. Hopefully, the Ravens special teams will not give up any big plays this time. The odds makers have the Ravens by 10 points with the over/under set at 45. I like the Ravens in this game to cover and I like the over in points. Enjoy the game and stay thirsty my friends.

Baltimore Ravens hosted by the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, November 10th at 1:00 PM                 Odds    Ravens by 10

Game Predictions

Score      Ravens    31      Bengals    19
Turnovers                    Plus 2
Net Rushing Yardage      Ravens    228       Bengals    88
Net Passing Yardage       Ravens    231       Bengals    188

Miscellaneous Predictions

• Gus carries 9 times for 52 yards
• Peanut leads all tacklers with 9
• Peters get his second interception
• Refs make terrible calls

Keys to the Game

• Don’t turn the ball over and you win!
• Run 30+ times and dominate TOP
• Rattle the Rookie and force mistakes

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