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TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 1: Baltimore Ravens Vs. Cincinnati Bengals

Ravens
Bengals
AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Quarterback
Winner Joe Flacco rarely gets categorized with the top quarterbacks in the game, but what he lacks in notoriety he makes up for in guts. Flacco has a plus arm, is usually at his best in big games and his teammates believe in him.
Andy Dalton developed into one of the league’s most surprising up-and-coming players last year. Look for more improvement from Dalton because he sees the field well, makes good decisions and he takes care of the ball.
Offense
Winner Few NFL teams can get the explosive plays out of their running game that the Ravens get with speedy Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin is a tough guy who will make plays, and Torrey Smith will not drop the ball.
The most exciting player on the offensive side of the ball is wide receiver A.J. Green. Look for hard-working BenJarvus Green-Ellis to take advantage of a solid offensive line and give the Bengals a credible ground game.
Defense
Winner The Ravens won't have Terrell Suggs to rush the passer for a while, but they still have Ray Lewis to run the show. Yes, he has slowed down but he’s still a leader. Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard are a joy to behold.
Mike Zimmer has done an excellent job turning the Bengal defense into a fast-moving and hard-hitting bunch. The Bengals ranked fourth in yards allowed per play last season. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins destroys the interior run.
Special Teams
Billy Cundiff paid the price for missing the game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game when he was cut in training camp. (Later signed by Washington.) Rookie Justin Tucker of Texas takes over and he has a big leg for kickoffs.
Winner The Bengals like Mike Nugent at placekicker. He returned from ACL surgery to make 33-of-38 field goals last season. Kevin Huber is an above average punter who has good directional skills.

The Winner Is

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Winner Ravens
3 out of 4

The Bengals usually struggle when expectations are anything but a losing season. Andy Dalton must pick up from where he left off and Marvin Lewis must shepherd the team along. The Ravens are perennial contenders and last year’s painful AFC Championship game loss to New England may spur them this season. Baltimore controls the season opener.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At New York Jets

    While Jay Cutler lacks consistency, he is capable of taking over any game and carrying the Bears with his strong arm when he gets on a roll.

  2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Pittsburgh Steelers At Carolina Panthers

    The Steelers are a veteran team that should understand how to play in a big game, but they appeared unprepared for their Week Two game with the Baltimore Ravens.

  3. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
    Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Miami Dolphins

    The Chiefs picked it up quite a bit in losing a 24-17 decision at Denver, and that should be encouraging to Andy Reid and quarterback Alex Smith.

See All Tales of the Tape
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