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5 issues to learn about tonight’s wild-card playoff recreation

Baltimore sat lots of its starters within the regular-season finale at Cincinnati, primarily on offense, and most of these guys are anticipated to play Sunday. Quarterback Lamar Jackson stays out with a knee damage, and backup Tyler Huntley is listed as questionable with a proper shoulder/wrist damage that sidelined him final week, however he was a full participant in observe Friday and must be good to go.

Operating again JK Dobbins, proper guard Kevin Zeitler and tight finish Mark Andrews have been all wholesome scratches and their return, together with the chance the Ravens will not have to depend on rookie third-string quarterback Anthony Brown, means the Bengals might be dealing with a more difficult offense than per week in the past. Cornerback Marcus Peters (calf) can be again however Brandon Stephens (sickness) stays out.

The Ravens beat the Bengals 19-17 in Week 5 in Baltimore with Jackson, however Ja’Marr Chase mentioned the Bengals have been nonetheless figuring issues out on offense early within the season and the newer outcomes are a greater reflection of what to anticipate.

2. Stopping the run

Even with out Jackson, the Ravens’ offense remains to be primarily based round a powerful working recreation, and Dobbins has been excellent since coming back from damage in Week 14. Baltimore averages 160 dashing yards per recreation (second within the NFL), and Dobbins has 397 yards and one landing on 57 carries (6.96 yards per try) in his final 4 video games.

Gus Edwards, who suffered a concussion final week, was cleared to play and provides a stable No. 2 punch.

The scheme is what makes Baltimore nonetheless profitable with out the league’s high dashing quarterback.

“It is 11-on-11 run recreation,” Bengals defensive deal with DJ Reader mentioned. “They do a superb job of getting additional (pulling blockers) out, simply creating totally different math on the road and it is totally different. On protection, you are all off the ball, moreover the 4 or 5 guys which might be arrange on the ball. So everyone else is flowing to the play. On offense, usually everyone’s lined up on the road beside the working again and fullback. So, when you might have individuals transferring which might be already on the road, some individuals are already engaged with these individuals. It is chopping off half the sector, it is making totally different gaps for the protection. It is only a actually, actually good scheme.”

The Bengals completed the common season because the seventh finest run protection within the league, permitting 106.6 yards dashing per recreation.

3. “There’s at all times get-backs”

The Bengals had some qualms about chippy conduct the Ravens displayed final week, although most of them would not specify what moments within the recreation or which Baltimore gamers have been inflicting issues. One specific brush-up that was circulating on social media throughout and after the sport was when Roquan Smith chest-bumped Chase after he missed a catch within the endzone within the third quarter. Chase mentioned “he was the one one attempting to try this messy stuff.”

“He did that on objective,” Chase mentioned. “It is alright. We bought one thing for that. There’s at all times get-backs.”

Baltimore gave the impression to be taking part in somewhat extra bodily total, however the Bengals should watch out to not let the opponent bait them into reacting. The groups mixed for simply eight penalties for 57 yards final week, however there was just one private foul known as.

“I feel simply controlling your feelings,” Taylor mentioned. “That is going to be an intense recreation. Any time you play a divisional recreation and then you definitely add the playoffs on high of that there is an depth and urgency that comes with that. I count on our guys to be able to go.”

4. Adjusting to extra modifications

The Bengals might be with out proper guard Alex Cappa after already having to regulate to the lack of proper deal with La’el Collins within the Week 16 recreation at New England. The offense has not closed out video games properly the previous two outings, and now they need to get again on observe for a whole efficiency with out the chemistry they’d labored to develop over the primary 14 video games.

Cincinnati had not seen any modifications to the beginning lineup till the Buffalo and Baltimore video games that Hakeem Adeniji began in Collins’ spot. Max Scharping mentioned he is able to step up in Cappa’s spot, and though he hasn’t been getting these first-team reps till this week, he has been within the system and across the offense sufficient to really feel comfy.

Middle Ted Karras did not sugarcoat what shedding Cappa means for the offense, but it surely’s simply one other shot of adversity for the group to beat.

“The O-line is a continuity and repetition place, so we have gotten plenty of reps (this week) and we have been repping all yr, however it is going to be onerous particularly to interchange Alex due to our relationship, simply learn how to ID the protection, learn how to distribute all our blockers,” Karras mentioned. “… I’ve to step up. Everybody’s bought to step it up. Max has an excellent alternative in entrance of him, and I am excited to see how he performs.”

The Bengals have allowed simply a mean of two sacks per recreation since giving up 13 sacks over the primary two video games, and Baltimore will seemingly be attacking that proper facet of the road. The Ravens enable simply 18.5 factors per recreation (third fewest) and 324.3 yards per recreation (tied for ninth fewest).

5. Classes from the previous

The Bengals will draw on final yr’s playoff experiences to some extent, as they attempt to navigate one other deep run.

Well timed turnovers on protection, Evan McPherson’s potential to kick underneath strain and Joe Burrow’s late-game heroics have been the important thing substances to attending to the Tremendous Bowl a yr in the past, however this season, Cincinnati has realized to win in several methods. If it involves needing a giant play late, the Bengals trust they’ll get it.

“They’ve all been in these methods for therefore lengthy now,” Taylor mentioned. “It actually feels that manner, so there’s simply this confidence. That is the third recreation this January, they usually know what the expectations are, they know what is going on to be wanted of them. They have been by way of this earlier than they usually know what it is going to take to do it once more.”


Ravens at Bengals, 8:15 p.m., NBC, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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