The big topic of conversation after last week’s game against the Jets was the success of the Ravens offense. They only put 10 points on the board, but walked away with a victory, they had three turnovers, but Joe Flacco threw for 248 yards, Ray Rice was held to 43 yards, but Anquan Boldin caught 7 passes for 110 yards. Whether you thought the offense looked solid or not, the Ravens left the Meadowlands with a victory.
Whatever you thought of the Ravens in week one, their week two strategy on offense will be much different against the Bengals defense. Baltimore faced a questionable offense against New York, but their defense is arguably one of the best in the league. This week they should focus on a more balanced attack against a defense that could not handle the Patriots offense who threw for three touchdowns and scored 24 points on them in the first half.
The Ravens have a lot to prove in this after being swept by the Bengals last year. On defense they need to prove that they can shut down Cedric Benson, who was the first running back to rush for 100 plus yards in 40 games against the Ravens defense.
On offense, Baltimore needs to prove that they can establish the run while supporting a well balanced pass attack. I would expect to see a 2009 style attack from the Ravens on offense, with Ray Rice leading supporting Joe Flacco and the passing game. In four games, Rice has 3.76 yards per attempt with just 48.5 yards per game. I would expect to see a performance a little closer to 100 yards.
Another important storyline for Sunday’s matchup is T.J. Houshmandzadeh’s return to Cincinnati after eight seasons with the Bengals. Housh recorded just one catch last week in the Meadowlands, but was a part of a crucial pass interference play in the end zone that resulted in Baltimore’s only touchdown. Houshmandzadeh was looking for a longer deal than Cincinnati was willing to offer and some Bengals fans may have some hostility to his return wearing the purple and black.
If the Ravens want to put up a good fight against the Bengals they have to first win the battle on the ground with a well balanced running attack from Ray Rice.