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5 issues to observe for in Ravens-Bengals on Tremendous Wild Card Weekend

Bengals. Ravens. Spherical three.

The playoffs are all the time a deal with for soccer followers all over the place, however when it includes a division rivalry, issues get much more intense.

Cincinnati and Baltimore break up their two conferences this season, every successful as the house staff. The video games got here amid a lot completely different circumstances: Cincinnati was combating by means of some early season struggles of their first matchup, and Baltimore rested a variety of key starters and performed a third-string quarterback of their rematch.

This time round, the gloves are off. There is not any holding again now. Win or go house — and listen to about it out of your division mates for the complete offseason.

Listed below are 5 issues to observe for in Sunday’s Tremendous Wild Card Weekend showdown in Cincinnati:

  1. Who’s enjoying quarterback for Baltimore? Lamar Jackson hasn’t been out there to the Ravens since Week 13, and he will not be again in time to face the Bengals of their 2022 rubber match. With out Jackson, Baltimore has turned to each Tyler Huntley and rookie Anthony Brown, and the offensive outcomes have been disheartening. Baltimore scored a mixed 75 factors over its final six video games of the common season, marking the second-fewest factors placed on the board by a playoff staff within the Tremendous Bowl period. The one staff that was worse was the 2014 Cardinals, who misplaced to Carolina on Wild Card Weekend. The Ravens dropped into the underside 5 in factors per recreation, passing yards per recreation, passer score and red-zone landing proportion within the weeks following Jackson’s damage, rating thirtieth or worse in all however passer score. Huntley looks as if the logical starter coming into this recreation, however even he carries a low ceiling, posting bottom-five marks in passing yards per try and touchdown-to-interception ratio (2:3). With Jackson, the Ravens beat the Bengals, 19-17, in Week 5. It is powerful to anticipate them to place up many factors with out him.
  2. Bengals again in an sadly acquainted place. Cincinnati is as soon as once more coming into the playoffs and not using a key starter or two out there on its offensive line. The Bengals weathered the lack of La’el Collins in current weeks, however Alex Cappa’s ankle damage suffered in Week 18 towards Baltimore will maintain him from enjoying on this recreation. Meaning the Bengals will hit the sphere within the postseason with out their beginning proper deal with and guard, presenting a possibility to the Ravens to stress Joe Burrow. It is going to be as much as Hakeem Adeniji and fourth-year lineman Max Scharping, who’s making his first begin this weekend, to maintain rushers from Burrow. Cincinnati ranks twenty fourth in sacks allowed, however Burrow nonetheless completed seventh in Subsequent Gen Stats passing rating and posted a 93.4 passer score and eight:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio whereas below stress. He is constructed to deal with the warmth — we realized this within the Divisional Spherical final 12 months — however it will not be simple with out the beginning proper facet of his line.
  3. Did the Ravens uncover a successful technique in Week 18? Cincinnati jumped throughout Baltimore in Week 18, turning three takeaways (two Anthony Brown interceptions and a fumble) into 21 factors within the first half to construct a 24-7 lead. The second half was a distinct and barely regarding story. After gaining 167 yards and placing 24 factors within the first two quarters, Cincinnati mustered simply 90 yards and three factors whereas defending its double-digit lead within the third and fourth quarters. The Bengals have been enjoying with out Cappa in that second half, however it appeared as if the Ravens lastly found out a solution to shut down a Bengals offense that averaged 29 factors per recreation from Weeks 9-18. It is indicative of a bigger pattern that started with the arrival of defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who has backed off on blitzing Burrow and as an alternative allowed his protection to play protection to success. The Ravens are getting much less stress on Burrow in 2022 versus 2021, however Burrow can also be being compelled to examine down extra typically, averaging simply 7.2 move yards per downfield try towards the Ravens and posting a passer score of 71.7 (versus 111.3 versus all different opponents) on such makes an attempt versus Baltimore. The Ravens’ technique is easy: Maintain the whole lot in entrance of you and pressure Burrow to dink and dunk as a lot as doable. Might or not it’s sufficient to provide a win?
  4. Which staff is the actual Bengals? Cincinnati made the skeptics look sensible early this season when it began 4-4 and struggled to duplicate the success that powered the Bengals to Tremendous Bowl LVI. Then they emerged from the bye week a distinct animal. Since their Week 9 break, the Bengals are an ideal 8-0, proudly owning a plus-six turnover differential, averaging near 30 factors per recreation and lighting up the scoreboard with an offense that rededicated itself to airing it out. The aforementioned sluggish second half final week was the primary signal of some sludge in Cincinnati’s gears. Was it simply an end-of-season fluke or a clue of a looming catastrophe? The Bengals have regarded like one of many NFL’s greatest groups within the second half of the season, however they will need to show this weekend that they did not peak too quickly.
  5. Cincinnati begins convention title protection. Cincinnati shocked the soccer world with its stunning run to Tremendous Bowl LVI final season, taking down the category of the AFC in Kansas Metropolis and successful every of its playoff video games in nail-biting trend. Evan McPherson shortly made himself a family title together with his cold-blooded game-winning kicks, a lot {that a} division rival (Cleveland) spent a fourth-round choose on a kicker within the ensuing draft. Burrow staked his declare to a spot among the many recreation’s greatest and brightest younger stars below middle, and Ja’Marr Chase proved he was far more than only a stat sheet stuffer. There is a distinction now, although. The Bengals are actually the hunted, not the hunters. Nobody shall be caught abruptly by Cincinnati this time round. Is it constructed to deal with the expectations?

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