The Baltimore Ravens will matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, and here’s our scouting report:
Cincinnati Bengals 2011 record: 9-7-0 (3rd in AFC North)
On Monday night, the Bengals will rely on Andy Dalton more than they had the previous season. Gone are the days of Cedric Benson controlling the tempo of the game as he has moved on to Green Bay. A large reason for the Bengals success in 2011 was their ability to rush the football. But with the departure of Benson, that may no longer be possible. Even though the Bengals acquired Benjarvus Green-Ellis through free agency, he doesn’t possess the same skill set of Cedric Benson. Green-Ellis was not asked to carry the football much in New England, and therefore it is unknown whether or not he can assume the task in Cincinnati.
But what the Bengals lack in running ability, they more than make up for throwing the football. Andy Dalton shocked the world as he capped off his rookie season with a trip to the Pro Bowl. A lot of what Dalton was able to do last year can be attributed to his teammate A.J. Green—the rookie wide receiver amassed more than 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns in his first season. If the Bengals are to win, they will need a huge game from both Green and Dalton. The Bengals will try to test the Ravens secondary by pushing the ball down the field. If they are successful, this game could roll in the Bengals favor.
With much of the attention going towards Green and Dalton, many overlooked how well this defense played in 2011. The Bengals would end the year ranked 7th in total defense while recording 45 sacks. That’s 3 less than the Baltimore Ravens. Mike Zimmer did a fantastic job of putting his players in position to make plays. Cincinnati should expect similar success this season. The Ravens offense looks to play a “no-huddle” style of offense in 2012. But make no mistake about it, the Bengals focus will be on stopping Ray Rice. Until the Ravens prove otherwise, he is still the heart and soul of that offense. Rice has scored a touchdown in 5 of the last 6 meetings between these 2 ball clubs and is currently averaging a whopping 5.4 yards per carry. If the Bengals are to upset the Ravens, they will need to shut Rice down.
On the flip side, the Bengals have faired well against the Ravens passing attack. The Bengals play a “Tampa 2” defensive scheme that has caused trouble for Joe Flacco in the past. This defensive scheme forces quarterbacks to throw into tight windows. The Bengals do an excellent job of accomplishing this while also being able to pressure the quarterback. This style of defense forces quarterbacks to make quick throws into tight windows while under duress. Flacco has struggled with this in the past. It’ll be very interesting to see how both teams scheme for this matchup.
Marvin Lewis is very familiar with the Ravens having coached with and against Baltimore for several years. The Ravens own the overall series record (18-14) but recently these two teams have had very close ball games. In fact, in the last 10 games the series has been split (5-5).
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.