(WJZ)- Following last week’s win over the Washington Football Team, the Ravens return to division play this week when the Cincinnati Bengals visit M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are heavy favorites and it’s not hard to understand why given the Bengals went 2-14 last season and are off to a 1-2-1 start this year with a rookie quarterback under center.
But, that doesn’t mean the Bengals are devoid of weapons. Running back Joe Mixon is coming off his best game of the season, tallying 181 total yards and three total touchdowns in Cincy’s win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. For NFL on CBS analyst Trent Green, the focus of the Ravens defense needs to start with Mixon, forcing the rookie Joe Burrow to beat you.
“You have to go back to last week when they (Bengals) got their first win and it was Mixon. That has to be the Ravens first point of focus would be Joe Mixon. That is where it starts if you’re the Ravens defense,” said Green. “Then you try to put it in Burrow’s hands and apply pressure but he has done a good job when you consider all he has been presented with and what he’s been able to do.”
The Ravens run defense has been stout, ranking 3rd in Football Outsiders‘ rush defense efficiency this season. So, it’s likely they can force the game into Burrow’s hands.
For his part, Burrow has shown why he was selected with the number one overall pick thus far this year. He’s completing 65 percent of his passes and has thrown for over 1,100 yards with six touchdowns and just two interceptions through his first four games. He’s thrown for 300 or more yards in each of his last three. And, while he’s no Lamar Jackson, he can make plays with his legs. The rookie has impressed Green with his “confidence, his work ethic, his skill set.”
While the defense may have its hands full, the offense should have no issues Sunday. The Bengals rank 21st in rush defense efficiency which means there should be plenty of room to roam for Jackson, Dobbins, Ingram and Edwards in the running game. And while Lamar hasn’t been especially impressive as a passer in recent weeks, Green isn’t concerned.
“We were all pretty overwhelmed by the numbers the offense put up a year ago. Number one, the way running game was, the amount of touchdown passes. Then I looked at it this week,” said Green. “It’s been two weeks since Lamar Jackson has passed for over 200 yards. Against the Chiefs it was under 100 yards and this past week it was under 200. Last year, he won the MVP, he had six games that he passed for under 200 yards and they were 6-0 in those six games.”
The Ravens enter Sunday’s game as 13 point favorites. They meet the Bengals Sunday on CBS with kick-off slated for 1 p.m. Eastern Time.