This is a much different look then last years Bengals and Ravens. The Bengals had the AFC North clinched last year at this time, and were hosting a playoff game on Wild Card Weekend. This year they are 4-11, and in last place in the AFC North. The Bengals had a 10 game losing streak this year. The Ravens are 11-4 and clinched a Wild Card berth. They have 2 more wins then the 2009-2010 season, and they are looking for a 12-4 record. The Bengals have won 3 straight against the Ravens, and even though the Ravens have clinched, they want to get the monkey off their back. Going into the playoffs with a 4 game win streak is better than a 1 game losing streak.
The Ravens offense didn’t do anything all game versus the Bengals defense. The Ravens receivers couldn’t do anything again. Anquan Boldin was held to 1 reception and this has been a recurring theme for the last couple of weeks. Anquan Boldin is a future Hall Of Famer, if he stayed with an offense who could throw him the ball. He only had 63 receptions during the regular season, and before this year he had over 80 receptions per year. He is a premier receiver in this league if he has a coordinator who is willing to get him the ball. Since the Ravens have Derrick Mason, a future Hall of Fame, T.J Houshmanzadah who is a receiver with over 600 yards, and guys like Heap and Ray Rice. Ray Rice is the Ravens leading receiver and when you have all of these weapons at wide receiver, your running back shouldn’t be leading in rushing and receiving. The Ravens have 3 wide receivers with 600 or more receptions, and Ray Rice is leading receptions. Joe Flacco has a big arm and the Ravens brought in Donte Stallworth as a deep ball threat and he is only in to do or fake a reverse. In training camp, the Ravens described Stallworth as a speedy receiver with good hands. The Ravens need to throw the ball better or run the ball better if they want to do well in the playoffs. The offense put up 13 points and the Ravens defense held them to 7 points.
The Ravens defense forced 5 turnovers, 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles. Ed Reed had both interceptions, one in the end zone while the Bengals were driving in the second quarter. Ray Lewis recovered 2 fumbles, and Chris Carr forced 2 fumbles. The Ravens defense played bend but don’t break, and even though they only allowed 7 points, they allowed 395 yards. Carson Palmer tore the Ravens secondary up without Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. The Ravens contained Cedric Benson but allowed Palmer to tear them apart. The Ravens are playing Matt Cassell and the Kansas City Chiefs in Wild Card Weekend. Dwayne Bowe has been one of the best receivers in the second half of the season. The Ravens defense didn’t sack Palmer once, and they saw the result. The Ravens blitz 3 or 4 often and they don’t do stunts or any other moves, so there is no pressure. If a team doesn’t get pressure in the NFL, a quarterback will kill you and throw for 300 plus yards. Greg Mattison needs to realize that he doesn’t have the best pass rushers in the NFL, and they can’t get to the quarterback with 4 guys. Terrell Suggs is not the premier pass rusher in the NFL like he was thought to be. Terrance Cody is only good if the other teams run right at him. Haloti Ngata is a defensive tackle who is playing defensive end and that is a big mistake since he is the best defensive tackle in the NFL. Cory Redding is just an average defensive end but has been playing pretty well. The Ravens secondary is weak, Ladarius Webb let up a long throw with less than 2 minutes to go. When there is less than 2 minutes, you don’t let the receiver get behind you. The Ravens corners play 8-10 yards off the ball, and if you look at the leagues great corners, they are bump and cover corners. The Ravens defense have a tough task at hand if they want to make it to the Super Bowl. If they play their best ball then they can make it, but if it’s not their best then they have no chance.