As we gear up for Cincinnati's game against the Baltimore Ravens, we'll be posting five keys for Cincinnati to win this Sunday. The second of five begins now...
Winning the field position battle. We're not going to detail too much under the file of "obvious football stuff", but this offense not having A.J. Green and the questions surrounding the team's wide receiver depth right now, posting turnovers and losing field position against the Ravens will be fatal. Again, if Green misses this Sunday, Simpson is your only proven play-maker that be labeled a threat from any spot on the field; Hawkins has that explosive talent to become one eventually and Gresham is mostly a red zone threat.
That being said, Dalton has posted four games with two interceptions this year -- Cincinnati is 2-2 in those games, including a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Cincinnati can't give away possessions this weekend; rather the demand to sustain drives and, at the very worst, winning the field position battle could prove as much critical as any aspect outside of the old "score more points than the other team" key to winning games.
Dalton has shown that he's capable enough to throw the football away under intense pressure with no immediate routes open, aware enough that the situation could lead to significant yardage loss on a quarterback sack. Live to fight another day, they say. And if Dalton throws the football away on third down, the team gives way to Kevin Huber who is three punts shy of leading the league with most punts inside the 20-yard line. Considering that the Bengals offense is only converting 37% of their third downs (ranked 19th) and the Ravens defense is allowing 32% of an opposing offense's third downs (ranked fourth), field position could be the biggest key this weekend.
Which will (obviously) greatly depend on Cincinnati's defense holding the Ravens from pushing the football and re-claiming field position. That being said, Cincinnati's moniker against the Ravens this weekend could be "live to fight another day" by winning the field position battle and not committing costly mistakes.