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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals at Ravens

The Bengals’ first major divisional test of 2022 comes in Week 5 at Baltimore.

NFL: OCT 24 Bengals at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One of the biggest reasons why the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals rose to unexpected heights was flipping the script in their AFC North rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens.

From 2018-20, the Ravens won five straight in the series with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, including three-straight wins of 24+ points.

But in Week 7 last season, the Bengals went into Baltimore as six-point dogs and absolutely thrashed the Ravens, 41-17, the first win for the orange and black over Jackson.

However, it must be noted that Baltimore was absolutely decimated by injuries last season, including several key players being lost to season-ending injuries before the regular season began.

Things only got worse by the time these two played again in Week 16, as Jackson was among several more key guys unable to go that week. The Bengals won that game 41-21.

Among the key Ravens who missed multiple games in 2021 included Jackson, Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Ronnie Stanley, J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Tyre Phillips. All of these guys are back for this season, so that’s a lot of firepower the Ravens will have back in 2022 that can absolutely push this team back into the playoffs.

The passing game will still look different, as wide receivers Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and Sammy Watkins are now elsewhere. First-Team All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews is back, while the Ravens are expecting a big Year 2 breakout from receiver Rashod Bateman, but there are still concerns in the pass-catching department with seldom-used guys like Devin Duvernay, James Proche II and Tylan Wallace set to take on bigger roles.

I’m still expecting Baltimore to find a way to add another impact receiver, be it during waivers during final cuts or even a trade. But even if they don’t, Jackson and the ground game behind a healthy offensive line will be a load to defend, and the defense has enough firepower to be a top-10 unit.

If the Ravens can stay healthy this season, I do think they’ll manage to take one game from the Bengals, which for now, I’m predicting to be in Week 5 when the two clubs clash on Sunday Night Football.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have 43.8% chance to win.

My prediction: Ravens 27, Bengals 24

Let us know how you see this one playing out!

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