Good morning Bengals Nation! It's Saturday and that means we're one day away from the biggest showdown of the year for the Bengals as they host the Baltimore Ravens in what is ultimately a playoff game for Cincinnati. Hopefully you have your gameday planned out involving beer, burgers, hot dogs, more beer, and other junk food. I hope you're ready for some football.
Alright here are the five keys for the Bengals on Sunday.
- Put pressure on Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense. Baltimore is already without one of its weapons in wide receiver Anquan Boldin and that is a huge plus for the Bengals. Without Boldin the Ravens receiving group will feature rookie Torrey Smith, Ed Dickson, and running back Ray Rice. As long as the Bengals defense can put consistent pressure on Flacco and not allow him to have all day in the pocket to make a decision then the Bengals should stand a legitimate chance at winning. If they can put more pressure on Flacco then maybe they can sack him 857,129 times. Okay maybe not that many times, but one can hope.
- The defense has to show for the entire game. Last time these two teams faced off the Bengals allowed 31 points and 373 total yards. The Bengals defense was no where to be seen in the second and third quarters. With the playoffs on the line the Bengals defensive unit will have to be present for the full 60 minutes. The second quarter is what worries me the most since the Bengals have fared the worst during that period.
- Create some turnovers. During round one the Bengals only managed to create one turnover. Turnovers usually lead to points and obviously are a moral booster for the entire team. The Bengals made three turnovers during the first match-up that led to two Baltimore touchdowns. If the Bengals can generate some turnovers and capitalize on them then they improve their chances of clinching a playoff berth. This season the Bengals have only generated 22 total turnovers. That lands them right about in the middle for total takeaways. This is the time where the Bengals defense is going to have do something to stop any momentum that the Ravens' offense might have.
- Hope the referees have better vision/common sense/knowledge of what a catch is. I think we all know what I'm referring to and if you don't, then I'm referring to the Jermaine Gresham
touchdown. Gresham made an amazing catch. He had the ball and crossed the goal line ball in hand, but as his weight was pulled towards the ground by an unknown gravitational force the ball "barely slipped from his hand" as he collided with the turf. Originally it was ruled a touchdown, but after further review the play was overturned. That cost the Bengals a shot at overtime. On the final drive of the game the Bengals could have attempted a game-tying field goal that would have sent the game into overtime, but thanks to that play the Bengals had to attempt to tie it up with a touchdown. I still hate the refs for that blown call.
- Hope that Jerome Simpson shows up. The Bengals need Simpson now more than ever. In what is the possibly the biggest game of his young career, the Bengals need the Simpson from the first Ravens game to show up and not the one that played against the San Francisco 49ers. The Bengals cannot solely rely on A.J. Green. Yes he has been a stud up to this point of the season, but I'm sure the Ravens offense will have double-man coverage for him throughout the game. That's why having secondary weapons, cough cough Simpson, are a necessity. Simpson is a vital component for the Bengals offense and they need him now more than ever.
Alright it's prediction time. With the playoffs on the line and the excitement being at an all-time high this season I believe the Bengals will come out on top and make the playoffs by defeating the Ravens 24-21.
Here is a look at what you may have missed or overlooked from Friday.
- Check out this week's mailbag.
- On Sunday the Bengals host the playoff-bound Ravens. If the Ravens win then they will have homefield advantage throughout the playoffs whereas the Bengals will make the playoffs with a win. Simply put, the Bengals need to win this game more than the Ravens.
- A big moment for the Bengals in 2011 was the firing of long-time offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski and the hiring of Jay Gruden. I think many of us are thankful for this move.
- Here is the final injury and practice report for the Bengals and Ravens. The Ravens could be without their top offensive lineman. And Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap returned to practice on Friday.
- Bengals running back Cedric Benson is scheduled to earn $250,000 in incentives if he surpasses 1,100 rushing yards. He has 84 yards to go in case anyone was wondering.
- Here is a preview for tomorrow's match-up.
- Jerome Simpson made headlines last week with his amazing touchdown reception where he flipped into the end zone over Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington, but not everything has been so outstanding this year for Simpson. Earlier in 2011 Simpson was under a federal drug investigation.
- A.J. Green broke onto the scene in a way that rookies dream about. In his first professional game Green made one reception, but it was a huge one. His 41-yard touchdown reception helped the Bengals start their season in the win column.
- It was big news to hear that the Bengals are going to reduce their ticket prices next season. Ultimately this is a step in the right direction for the Bengals front office. Can't believe I'm saying this, but go Mike Brown.