Welcome to the Jungle: Bengals Week 1 vs Ravens

Bengals vs. Ravens

Game Preview:

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals, 1:00pm ET

Bengals have a 58.5% chance to win *according to ESPN’s Football Power Index

Key Injuries: John Ross Doubtful (Knee), Shawn Williams Questionable (Elbow), C.J. Uzomah Questionable (Ankle)

Playing at home on week 1 for the first time in 9 years, the Bengals will be looking to take down division foe and longtime rival, the Baltimore Ravens. While the Bengals are banged up a little bit missing some key players, the Ravens will be gaining full health. Joe Flacco was out for the whole preseason with a back injury but he is set to start week 1. Breshad Perriman and Danny Woodhead plan to be back in the lineup as well.

Who is out for the Bengals:

Cincinnati will be without top cornerback Adam Jones and starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict, as they are both serving suspensions. Adam Jones serving a 1 game suspension for personal conduct and Burfict for a “dirty hit”. Last years first round pick William Jackson III will be a likely candidate to replace Jones at corner back, and Vincent Rey and Jordan Evans sharing time at linebacker to fill in for Burfict.

The Bengals are still favored to win this game despite all the injuries they have. The Ravens have not beaten the Bengals in Cincinnati since 2011. Flacco, who crammed a whole preseason and training camp into 1 week, has struggled against the Bengals in his career. He has thrown 5 touchdowns compared to 12 interceptions while posting a 2-6 record in Cincinnati. He does have new weapons this year in Woodhead and Jeremy Maclin, as well a healthy offensive line heading into week one.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have lost many key pieces to their offensive line. They lost tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler to free agency in the offseason. By starting 2015 second rounder Jake Fischer at right tackle and moving 2015 first round pick, tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, to the left side of the line, they are hoping these two young players can fill in for the lost Whitworth. While also signing former Bengal and recent Viking Andre Smith to fill in at guard for Zeitler. The offensive line is very unproven.

Keys to winning:

To win this game the Bengals will need to protect Dalton. Giving up 41 sacks last year troubled Dalton, as he struggles over his career with being under pressure. Last season Dalton posted a passer rating of 91.8, that number dropped to 57.1 when under pressure, and 76.2 when being blitzed. Since entering the league Dalton ranks 14th-worst in passer rating when under pressure. If he has time in the pocket, and the run game can get going early then Dalton should have an easy time passing over the defense. With A.J. Green healthy and Eifert expected to play, Dalton is not short of weapons. The Cincinnati defense should not have a hard time stopping this sub par Ravens offense. The Ravens struggle throwing the ball deep and in recent years struggled running the ball.

In the end, the Bengals although more banged up, are still the better team in this matchup. With a win this week against the Ravens, the Bengals can start the season on the right foot, and hopefully get on a run to start the season.

With a win this week against the Ravens, the Bengals can start the season on the right foot,

Storylines:

Rookie running back Joe Mixon comes in at 3rd on the depth chart, behind Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard respectively. Coming to a surprise to some, as he impressed during preseason and Hill nursing an ankle injury. He is a rookie though and most likely will not stay at the bottom for long. Expect him to take over the starting job before the season is over.

Also, Jordan Willis is second on the depth chart behind Michael Johnson. Willis was phenomenal in the preseason. He performed well against the first team defenses he faced while dominating the second and third string defenses he faced. Johnson is a vet though and knows the defense a little more. Although Willis is behind Johnson in the depth chart, expect them to split the snaps at defensive end for now until Willis takes over his job for good

Contract Year:

This is a contract year for Marvin Lewis. After going to the playoffs 5 straight seasons, a down year last year was disappointing. Going 6-9-1 was troublesome, although they did have some bad luck. The Bengals went 1-6 in games decided by one possession and also tied with the Redskins. Kicking struggles doom them, but with the signing of Randy Bullock, the Bengals should have much better luck there. If Lewis can take this team back to the playoffs and hopefully win a playoff game, then expect him to gain an extension in the offseason.

Injury:

John Ross will be sidelined with yet another injury. This time he injured his knee in the last preseason game of the season. While running the ball on his way to a 26 yard gain, he was hit and hurt his knee. He is expected to miss a few weeks while he recovers, but the injury is not considered serious.

Shawn Williams has been banged up for most of his career but when healthy he has been solid. He has been nursing an elbow injury he suffered during week 3 of the preseason against the Chiefs. Williams is recovering well and is hoping to return for the opener, but if not he will be back week 2 or week 3. He avoided what was concerned to be a gruesome and serious injury.

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