Ravens vs. Bengals Preview

December 26, 2011 | Michael Schwartz

The Ravens go into Cincinnati with the division in their own hands. The Ravens win and they get a first round bye and at least one home playoff game. The Bengals win and they get the last wild card spot, so they have a lot to play for. If the Bengals win then there will be three teams from the AFC North in the playoffs.

I think that the Bengals will beat the Ravens this week because rookie A.J Green will tear up the Ravens secondary. Rookie Andy Dalton has been very good this year and the Ravens have not been great against the passing game. If the Ravens can pressure Dalton then they will win, but I think that the Bengals line is to good to allow the Ravens to get pressure.

Terrell Suggs is the Ravens best pass rusher but has 11 of his 13 sacks in four games. Suggs is very inconsistent and people don’t always double team him. Suggs was going one on one this week with Joe Thomas and Tony Pashos. Joe Thomas is All Pro, but Pashos is not. He hit the quarterback once on a stunt but didn’t have a sack. He didn’t have a sack versus the Chargers either, but they were chipping him at the line. I think that Suggs needs to be more consistent then having multiple sacks in a few games. In the playoffs, they will need him to be consistent in the playoffs if they want to go far.

Ed Reed was one of the best safeties coming into the year but this year a lot has changed. He had two picks in the first week versus the Steelers and then didn’t have another until Week 10 versus the Bengals. He has three interceptions on the year but he is not playing the same way. He is not tackling at all, he is just throwing his body at them because he is afraid to hurt his neck. However, he probably hurt his neck because he never tackled correctly. When running backs come at him, he doesn’t try to tackle them with his arms, he just dives around them. He is biting on a lot of pump fakes this year, because he is trying to be a ball hawk. He plays almost 30 yards of the ball at the snap. He is a good mentor to young safeties but he is not playing at a high level anymore.

I have heard that Ray Lewis is not playing at the top of his game anymore. Of course he is not playing at the top of his game but he is still playing at a high level. Lewis is still making tackles and can still take on the blocker and back in the hole. Lewis has lost a few steps but he is still making plays. Everybody misses a tackle or two, so it is ok that Lewis misses a tackle now and then. He missed four games, so he is still getting used to playing again. I think that he will have a big game this week, but it won’t be enough.

The Bengals defense is very good and should be able to contain the Ravens offense. The Ravens offense has not been playing great in the last few games. They can drive down the field but haven’t been finishing drives. I think that the Ravens will score, but mostly on field goals.

Prediction: 31-17 Bengals