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The Baltimore Ravens are set to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 7 of the 2021 season. Baltimore has been able to put together a 5-1 record, which is the best mark in the AFC. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is off to a strong start themselves with a 4-2 record.
This game will mark the 27th matchup between the two teams since John Harbaugh took over as the Ravens’ head coach, with Baltimore getting the better of Cincinnati over that time period, going 14-12.
Below we talk with Chris Roling of The Bengals Wire as he answers five questions about Cincinnati ahead of the Week 7 matchup between the Ravens and the Bengals.
How impressed have you been with Joe Burrow's evolution in his second season so far?
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Very. He made it into nine games and change as a rookie before the serious injury. It seemed like he’d need until at least midseason this year to even reach his rookie form before even thinking about upward development again. Instead, he’s coming out looking even better and just passing the 16-game mark for his career. He’s as mobile as ever in the pocket despite the knee brace and due to some throwing-motion tweaks this offseason, he’s got a stronger arm. Now if he’d learn how to slide so he doesn’t get hurt, that would probably make Bengals fans feel even better.
How important is it for Cincinnati to get their run game going early and establish some sort of tone?
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Not very. The running game has been a mess for the Bengals already this year with Joe Mixon battling minor injuries. A revolving door of names along the offensive line, especially on the interior and right side, have hurt things. When Zac Taylor’s calling a good game though, the short passing game really compensates for it. The tone-setting comes from Burrow and a much-improved defense so far.
Outside of the big three in Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, who are some other pass catching options that have gone a bit under the radar for the Bengals?
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Tight end C.J. Uzomah finally escaped the shadow of Tyler Eifert, only to blow out his Achilles. He’s back again this year though and second on the team in receiving scores with three. He’s made several late, game-winning plays now. He’s not an elite player by any means, but he’s massive and good after the catch. Rookie back Chris Evans is finally starting to get going in that Giovani Bernard-type role as a receiver, too.
What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Cincinnati defense?
(AP Photo/Aaron Doster)
The pass-rush is much upgraded this year with D.J. Reader healthy in the middle and new arrival Trey Hendrickson erupting off the edge. Everybody seems to know about safety Jessie Bates now. Corners not named Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton are a weakness though. The likes of Eli Apple have to step in for IR’d Trae Waynes and it’s something any passing attack in the league can exploit.
Who wins this game and why?
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
This one probably belongs to Baltimore because of Jackson. Burrow and an improved defense will help it be much more competitive than last year’s blowouts. But what the Ravens have been able to do despite injuries is remarkable. There’s also the uncomfortable conversation about strength of opponents for the Bengals so far. Jackson makes the few key plays that decide it late.