For this week lets put the Bengal offense on the back burner and bring the defense forward. The Bengals must make a statement this week with their defense. The defense is now sitting at a respectable 11th in the league and is the highest ranked defense in the division base on points allowed per game. So what are the keys to victory for the defense?
The first key is containing the Ravens run attack. The Ravens have been able to field a pretty balanced attack. The Bengals must shut down Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. The Ravens have almost 500 total yards rushing with 6 TDs in 4 games, McGahee is averaging 5.4 yards a carry. Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga must neutralize the speed game of the Ravens run attack with some sideline to sideline speed. But it will take penetration by the defensive line to stop Rice and McGahee in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage.
If the Bengals can force the Ravens into more passing situations you have to like their chances. Joe Flacco has 3 pics, 1 fumble, and 5 sacks. Putting pressure on Flacco and shutting down Derrick Mason could lead to a big afternoon for Antwan Odom and Robert Geathers. If Carson Palmer and the receiving crew can get points on the board and force the Ravens to play from behind fans might see a few more turnovers going the Bengals way.
Finally turnovers, any comparisons between this years Bengals team and the team from 2005 should have an asterisk. The Bengals in 2005 were +24 with 44 takeaways to 20 giveaways. In the first 4 games of this year the Bengals only have 2 interceptions & 2 fumble recoveries. The Bengals are -2 in the takeaway/giveaway department so far this year. The bottom line is the Bengal defense needs to create and produce more turnovers. Turnovers rattle young quarterbacks, create scoring opportunities, and demoralize opponents, all of which the Bengals will need this Sunday.