Should the Bengals win their third consecutive game it could play a part in knocking the Ravens from the playoffs. More importantly for the long-term outlook, it would solidify a turnaround for Zac Taylor’s team.
Granted, the big news is the Bengals won’t bring back three of Taylor’s coaches next season.
But on the field itself, the Bengals face a tall task against the surging Ravens. Baltimore has won four in a row and Lamar Jackson has returned to borderline MVP form in the process. The defense still lets up an average of just 20 points per game, a top-five number.
These teams last met in Week 5, a 27-3 win for Baltimore while Joe Burrow struggled and Joe Mixon averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.
Fast forward to now, the Bengals don’t have Burrow or Mixon and things are more complicated than even a few days ago because defensive tackle Mike Daniels tested positive for COVID-19 and won’t be able to play.
If the Bengals are going to win, it’s going to come from a big push from unexpected names. A week ago, it was a career day for Brandon Allen and running back Samaje Perine.
This week, a multi-headed rushing attack will need to control the ground game and keep the Ravens off the field. An already-injured defense will need to figure out a way to contain Jackson out of the backfield — while coordinator Lou Anarumo potentially coaches to keep his job in 2021.
In the end, it’s probably a little too much to expect the Bengals to pull off the upset here. Jackson is just too much this time of year and we can’t guarantee a strong offensive performance each week with a backup under center. Also, this isn’t the overrated Steelers or rebuilding Texans, but a strong Baltimore team currently surging, likely into the playoffs.
If nothing else, it’s a good time to just sit back and enjoy what could be the final Bengals game for names like A.J. Green.
Prediction: Ravens 27, Bengals 14