BALTIMORE, MD - NOVEMBER 20: Wide receiver Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens is pulled down by his hair by cornerback Adam Jones #24 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at M&T Bank Stadium on November 20, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton, a.k.a. "The Professor," has listed 10 things to watch for during the Bengals and Ravens Monday Night Football game. His list is largely comprised of strengths and concerns of the current Bengals squad that fans and Cincy Jungle writers have addressed recently and throughout the preseason. The article is worth reading through. Rather than simply repeat his words, I’d like to quickly summarize Clayton’s points and link them to some of our very own articles addressing the various topics that Clayton brings up:
Concerns about the middle of the Bengals offensive line - After the loss of Travelle Wharton and Kyle Cook, veteran center Jeff Faine and young left guard Clint Boling will have to prove they’re capable of keeping Dalton comfortable in the pocket. Clayton doesn’t mention rookie Kevin Zeitler when addressing the middle of the line, but it’s worth throwing his name out there simply because it will be his first NFL regular season game.
How will Mike Zimmer assign his man-to-man matchups? - Nate Clements and Leon Hall will start, but Clayton is interested in how Zimmer will use Terence Newman, Adam Jones, and Jason Allen in rotation.
Performance of Taylor Mays – Clayton primarily focuses on Mays’ opportunities at handling opposing tight ends – an apparent weakness the Bengals have displayed both in 2011 and during preseason. We here have covered the developments of Taylor Mays extensively.
Bengals Running Game – Can the Bengals count on BenJarvus Green-Ellis getting a relatively large workload this week?
Sorting out the wide receivers – We’ve gone over this plenty of times. This first regular season game is Dalton’s opportunity to establish some threats on the field to draw defenders from A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham.
Once again, be sure to check out Clayton's list, as he spends 5 points on his list with strengths and weaknesses of the Ravens as well. One of the biggest weaknesses of the Ravens is their questionable pass rush without Terrell Suggs and a young rookie starter in Courtney Upshaw in his place. Clayton also addresses he tempo of the Ravens offense with their focus on a no huddle approach this season.
Finally, in case you've missed it: Here's John Clayton's amazing contribution to ESPN's SportsCenter advertising:
This is SportsCenter - John Clayton (via ESPN)