Tale Of The Tape: Cincinnati Bengals At Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackAndy Dalton has completed 64.8 percent of his passes this year and a 16-10 TD-interception ratio, and those totals are clearly respectable for the solid Bengals. However, there has been a tendency to come up short with some of his throws or make some key mistakes at big moments. Most of those errors have come in road games, so competing at Baltimore is a major concern.Joe Flacco has one of the strongest arms in the league and his track record shows a history of success once the Ravens get to the second half of the season. That should give hope to the Ravens, because they did not have the kind of passing game in the first half of the season that head coach John Harbaugh wanted to see. Flacco must throw his underneath passes with more consistency.
- OffenseThe Bengals have gotten a lift from rookie running back Giovanni Bernard, who had a memorable 35-yard TD run in Week Nine vs. the Dolphins. Bernard suffered a rib injury in that game, but he should be fine for the Ravens. A.J. Green is one of the best receivers in the league because he can high point the ball and run after the catch. Marvin Jones is an emerging threat at the other wide receiver spot.The Ravens have not performed as well as expected on offense, and that’s hurt them badly because the defense is going through a transition process. Running back Ray Rice is perhaps the most disappointing player in the league. Wide receiver Torrey Smith can go downfield and catch the ball, but the other wideouts tend to be non-threatening.
- DefenseThe Bengals have been very good overall on defense, ranking eighth and playing with an intensity that has satisfied hard-nosed defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. However, the loss of nose tackle Geno Atkins cannot be overstated. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is the team’s leading tackler with an eye-catching 90 stops. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap has 4.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.The Ravens are ordinary on defense – they rank 16th in total yards allowed – and that’s about what was expected in this transition year. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith has become this unit’s most consistent player. He is the team’s best tackler and is quite solid in pass coverage. Terrell Suggs is an excellent pass rusher but he does not always sell out against the run.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals have been quite pleased with their special teams. Not only do they hold their own with punt and kickoff coverage, Brandon Tate has been a solid return man who has come close to breaking a TD return. Mike Nugent is a good but not great placekicker who has made 12-of-15 FG attempts.The Ravens have done a solid job in coverage and they have also gotten an edge from Tandon Doss as a return specialist. Harbaugh knows that he can depend on Justin Tucker when he sends him out for a field goal attempt, but Sam Koch is just an average punter.
The Bengals appear to have edges in a couple of the measurables, but they don’t play as well on the road as they do at home. They also have to try to compete without Atkins in the middle of their defensive line. Look for Flacco to come through big at home against a divisional rival. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor