SERIES HISTORY: 46th regular-season meeting. Bengals lead series, 23-22. Cincinnati is 8-2 in the last 10 meetings. In Week 2, the Bengals claimed a 34-23 victory in Cincinnati despite being outgained 425-375. The Bengals built a pair of 21-point leads, sacked Joe Flacco four times and forced three turnovers.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a game-time decision because of a sore hip. If he doesn't play, Lamar Jackson could make his first career start and change the dynamic of the game. Jackson would run the read-option to avoid the pass rush, and Robert Griffin III could also play to help the ball downfield against a Bengals secondary that has the league's 30th-ranked pass defense. The biggest challenge for Baltimore will be containing Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who had two sacks in the earlier meeting.
Cincinnati amassed 373 total yards against the Ravens in the first meeting. The Ravens caught a huge break with receiver A.J. Green being ruled out with a foot injury. However, Baltimore will have to do a better job containing running back Joe Mixon, who had 84 yards on 21 carries in the Week 2 matchup. Baltimore needs to keep quarterback Andy Dalton under constant pressure because he has shown that he can beat them downfield. The Ravens' safeties, Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson, will provide more support to prevent Tyler Boyd from making long receptions downfield.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
--OUT: LB Preston Brown (knee), WR Josh Malone (hamstring), LB Nick Vigil (knee), DT Adolphus Washington (knee)
--DOUBTFUL: WR A.J. Green (toe)
--QUESTIONABLE: LB Vontaze Burfict (hip), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion), WR John Ross (groin)
--OUT: T James Hurst (back), LB Tim Williams (ankle)
--DOUBTFUL: QB Joe Flacco (hip)
--QUESTIONABLE: S Tony Jefferson (thigh), T Ronnie Stanley (ankle), CB Tavon Young (ankle)
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Ravens CBs Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr vs. Bengals WRs Tyler Boyd and John Ross. Humphrey has overcome a thigh injury and is playing like a top-tier cornerback in just his second year. Carr is a seasoned veteran who will likely be starting his 170th consecutive game. QB Andy Dalton will target both players for much of the night. The Ravens secondary has faded over the last three games. Boyd had six receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown in Week 2 and will look to create matchup problems again.
--Ravens WRs Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead IV and John Brown vs. Bengals CBs Williams Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick. Crabtree, Snead and Brown have struggled to get open in the last month as opposing defenses have adjusted to the Ravens' downfield schemes. Brown managed four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown in the previous game against the Bengals. However, much of the passing attack hinges on whether quarterback Joe Flacco can play. Rookie Lamar Jackson is still a work in progress throwing the ball downfield. Jackson and Kirkpatrick are both vulnerable to big plays and will get extra support from safeties Shawn Williams and Jesse Bates.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bengals RB Joe Mixon. It's hard to gauge how well anybody could have played in a 51-14 loss but the numbers indicate Mixon played well as he is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. This week, Mixon is going against the league's 10th-best rush defense in yards allowed. Mixon needs just 56 yards to top the 626 he posted last year.
FAST FACTS: BENGALS QB ANDY DALTON passed for 265 yards with 4 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 107.7 rating in last meeting. Has 7 TD passes vs. 0 INTs for 98.4 rating in his past 2 vs. Bal. ... RB JOE MIXON has 184 scrimmage yards (92 per game) in his past 2 vs. Bal. ... RB GIOVANI BERNARD has 3 rush TDs in his past 3. ... WR TYLER BOYD had 91 rec. yards & TD catch in last meeting. ... WR JOHN ROSS had TD catch in Week 10. Has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3. ... S SHAWN WILLIAMS had 10 tackles in Week 10. Had 8 tackles, sack, INT & FF in last meeting. Has INT in 2 of his past 3 vs. Bal. ... DT GENO ATKINS has 3.5 sacks & 4 TFL in his past 4 vs. Bal. ... DE CARLOS DUNLAP has 3 sacks in his past 3. Has sack in 5 of his past 7. ... Rookie S JESSIE BATES had team-high 11 tackles last week. Had 1st-career INT in Week 2 meeting. Is 1 of 2 NFL players (KIKO ALONSO) with 70+ tackles (71) & 3+ INTs (3). ... RAVENS QB JOE FLACCO passed for 376 yards with 2 TDs vs. 2 INTs in last meeting. Is averaging 273.9 pass yards per game, 2nd-highest total in his career. ... QB LAMAR JACKSON is 1 of 2 rookie QBs (JOSH ALLEN) with 100+ rush yards (139) & rush TD (1). ... RB ALEX COLLINS had rush TD in Week 9. Aims for his 3rd in row with rush TD. Has 4 rush TDs in his past 4. ... WR JOHN BROWN had 92 rec. yards & TD in last meeting. ... WR MICHAEL CRABTREE has 5+ catches & 65+ rec. yards in 3 of his past 5. ... LB C.J. MOSLEY has 11+ tackles in 2 of his past 3. ... LB TERRELL SUGGS had 3 PD in last meeting. Has 4 TFL & 3 sacks in his past 5. ... S TONY JEFFERSON is 1 of 6 NFL safeties with 50+ tackles (54), FF (1) & INT (1).
PREDICTION: The Ravens might be without quarterback Joe Flacco, while Cincinnati fired its defensive coordinator and wide receiver A.J. Green won't play. The uncertainty of Flacco has kept the game off the betting boards in Las Vegas. Anyone have a good coin to flip?
OUR PICK: Ravens, 20-17