This Week Versus Last Week

INDIANAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 02: Marvin Lewis the Head Coach of the Cincinnati Bengals watches from the sidelines during the NFL preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 2 2010 in Indianapolis Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

No championship caliber NFL team ever did anything great by dwelling on a tough loss instead of focusing on their next game and the Bengals should be no different. That's not to say that they shouldn't learn from the mistakes they made against New England. Learning from those mistakes will, hopefully help the Bengals play better against a very good Ravens team that is undoubtedly looking to get some revenge against the Bengals. After watching the Ravens play an overrated New York Jets team last night, I came to realize that this Ravens team is just as good as they always have been and they've added some extra fire power in the form of Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Let's see how the Ravens stack up against the Bengals compared to how the Patriots did.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco versus Tom Brady

Brady looked great, like he has for the bulk of his career. He proved, against the Bengals unfortunately, that when he has time to throw, he can tear a secondary apart, no matter how good they are. Joe Flacco showed his lack of experience last night against the Jets defense. When Flacco can't find an open receiver or he's under pressure, he can hold on to the ball until it's too late, like in the Ravens first play in which Flacco was sacked and fumbled the ball, or he can make a poor decision, throwing the ball up for grabs.

Winner: Tom Brady.... by a lot.

What the Bengals need to do:

If the Jets did the Bengals a favor last night, it was showing exactly what to do to the Ravens offense on obvious passing downs and that is to bring the house. The Jets sent all of their linebackers after the quarterback on more than one occasion and for much of the game, Joe Flacco was either on his back or running for his life. Like most quarterbacks, Flacco didn't bother to throw the ball Derrelle Revis' way. Instead he chose to pick on Antonio Cromartie who had a hard time in coverage and ended up giving the Ravens a lot of yards in the form of more than one pass interference penalties. The Bengals have two solid cornerbacks in Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. If Flacco is constantly under pressure on Sunday, and I hope he is, it would be a costly mistake to pick a corner to "pick on".

Baltimore Running Game versus Patriots Running Game

The previously fourth ranked defense in the NFL made the Patriots sub-par running game look a lot less sub and a lot more par. If those mistakes aren't corrected before the Ravens roll into the Queen City, Ray Rice could make the Bengals run defense look even worse.

Winner: Ravens Running Game

What the Bengals need to do:

Ray Rice is like a miniature running back that you can fit in your pocket. When he stands in the huddle, it looks like it's bring your kids to work day for the Ravens but, like they say, good things come in small packages and Ray Rice is a good thing... at least for the Ravens. His size gives him leverage and enables him to get "lost" as he busts through the line and then suddenly appear as he's flying past the linebackers. The key to stopping Ray Rice is two fold. One way is to get tough on the defensive line and make sure the defensive ends are always containing Rice... good old fundamental football. The other way is to force the Ravens offense to play catchup. If the Bengals can get up a couple scores early, it will force the Ravens to start passing more and running less.

Baltimore Receivers versus Patriots Receivers

Randy Moss has a wall reserved in Canton and Wes Welker could easily find himself there one day as well. Anquan Boldin is a great and tough wide receiver but he isn't Randy Moss. Houshmandzadeh and Welker are different kinds of receivers but we all know what Housh can do when he's opposite a good no. 1 receiver.

Winner: Patriots Receivers

What the Bengals need to do:

I don't care if your cornerbacks are Revis and a young Deion Sanders, they can't completely shut out Boldin and Houshmandzadeh all day long without allowing a single catch. Joseph and Hall are good enough to cover both of these guys alone for most of the game but there will be breakdowns in coverage eventually, especially if Joe Flacco can sit in the pocket for 20 minutes like Brady could. A major key here is going to be making sure that Flacco knows that he has to make his decisions quick or end up on the bottom of a pile. The defensive line has got to play much better and it would be nice to see some Rex Ryanish blitz packages every once in a while. I have faith that Joseph and Hall can be left out on an island and be okay.

Ravens Defense versus Patriots Defense

The Patriots defense played well against the Bengals and while they only sacked Carson Palmer once, they definitely had him on his back a few times. While the Ravens defense made the Jets offense look absolutely terrible last night, I'm not completely convinced that the Jets had a very good offense to begin with. I wonder if they miss Thomas Jones yet?

Winner: Ravens Defense

What the Bengals need to do:

Ray Lewis is a hall of famer already. There is no question about it. If the guy has lost a step over the years, he's made up for it by knowing where to be at all times. Like Lewis, the entire Ravens defense is tough. They are always going to be one of the top defenses in the league along with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, this is also the same Baltimore defense that the Bengals had had to endure for a long time. The Bengals already know that Haloti Ngata is a force to be reckoned with on the defensive line. They already know that Ray Lewis controls the middle of the field and they already know that Terrell Suggs has a talent for getting to the quarterback. The biggest difference between this season and other seasons is the lack of Ed Reed in the secondary. If you reverse things, you realize that this is not the same Bengals offense that the Ravens are used to. They haven't had to deal with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens and Jordan Shipley. They haven't had to worry about a pass catching tight end. They haven't had to worry about those things combined with Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. They made the Jets look bad but the Bengals aren't the Jets. Just like in any game, the Bengals need to protect Carson Palmer and know that the Ravens are going to send pressure from all angles. If they can do that, one of the receivers will get open and if they do, Palmer will find them. Once that happens and the Ravens are moving backwards, the game magically opens up for Benson and Scott. Basically, the Bengals need to look the way they did in the second half of the Patriots game for a full hour of play instead of 30 minutes.

I didn't say anything here that you didn't already know. Maybe this whole post was a way to make myself feel better after a tough opening weekend loss. Maybe I just needed to remember that we aren't a bad team, we're just a team finding it's way through an extremely tough schedule. No matter the reason, I know that the Bengals are just as capable of beating the Baltimore Ravens as they are of beating themselves. Last year, they bounced back after a freak loss against the Denver Broncos. They are just as capable of doing the same  thing this year. I hope they do and I know that you do too.

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