Week 11: Ravens-Bengals Preview

Ravens lost at Cincinnati 34-23 in Week 2

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens could have a new look Week 11 against the Cincinnati Bengals, who also made some drastic changes to their team.

Rookie first-round pick Lamar Jackson will likely make his first start at quarterback for Baltimore if Joe Flacco cannot play because of a right hip injury.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin and will assume those duties. The Bengals are allowing the most yards per game (456.5) in the NFL.

Lewis also hired former Cleveland coach Hue Jackson as a special assistant. The Bengals will be playing without their top playmaking receiver, A.J. Green, because of a foot injury.

The Ravens (4-5) are essentially playing a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive. They are also looking to avenge a 34-23 loss to the Bengals in Week 2.

“Let’s go play the game,” Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. “They took care of us last time, and that’s the good thing about this division – you get to play each team twice.”

Flacco sustained the hip injury in the first quarter against Pittsburgh in Week 9. He was visibly hampered but played the entire game, completing 23 of 27 passes for 209 yards.

The Ravens players declined to comment on how their approach will change if Flacco is unavailable.

“Obviously, the whole injury thing, John [Harbaugh] addresses the injuries, so I’m not going to talk about the injuries,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “We’re preparing for Cincinnati, 110-percent, and just preparing to play good football.”

Each of the past five games between the Ravens and Bengals has been decided by one score at M&T Bank Stadium. This game is shaping up to be no different.

The Ravens also will not prepare much differently with Lewis leading the Bengals’ defense.

“I think their defense is in place; they have the players that they have,” Harbaugh said. “We know the players; we know the scheme. We wouldn’t expect any dramatic changes in the scheme. Coach Lewis is a defensive coach, so he’s always had his imprints on the defense. We expect them to stay within his philosophy, and we’ll just have to see what we get on Sunday and play against it.”

The Raven need to go at least 5-2 the rest of the way to have a shot at the postseason. Baltimore currently sits behind the Bengals (5-4), Titans (5-4) and Dolphins (5-4) for the second wild card position.

The Ravens players are trying to avoid any outside distractions and completely focus on Cincinnati.

“Everybody understands that we can fight our tails off and be relevant at the end of the year,” Yanda said. “But, we’re not looking anywhere past Cincinnati. Everybody has a good attitude. Everybody is working hard and preparing, and yes, that’s definitely not our focus. We feel like we can get this thing turned around and get it rolling.”

NOTES, QUOTES

-- While rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson admits he might have some butterflies, he is fully prepared to start against the Bengals.

Joe Flacco is dealing with a right hip injury and will be a game-time decision,

“I feel like I'd be very prepared,” Jackson said about potentially starting. “Whatever happens, will happen.”

Jackson has appeared in nine games this season and has been used primarily in the wild-cat scheme. He has run for 139 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown. Jackson has also completed 7 of 12 passes for 87 yards with a touchdown.

If Flacco is unavailable, Robert Griffin III will also be active for the first time this season.

"If I get that opportunity to go out there and play, I'm going to make the most of it," Griffin said. "Show these guys not only how hard I've been working but how much I believe in them. it's been awesome."

-- Ravens coach John Harbaugh dismissed a report this week saying the he and the Ravens will have a "mutual parting of ways" after the season.

Baltimore has missed the playoffs in four of the past five years. There has been wide speculation the Ravens will fire Harbaugh if the team doesn’t make the postseason.

Baltimore is currently 4-5 and behind three teams for the sixth and final playoff spot.

"That stuff doesn't matter. I mean, the report itself ... How do you even address stuff like that when there is so many layers to it that you know just aren't true?" Harbaugh said. "Again, it's just noise; it doesn't matter; it means nothing. It's not something that I'm going to think about or concern myself with."

SERIES HISTORY

46th all-time meeting. Bengals lead the series, 23-22. In Week 2, the Ravens lost at Cincinnati, 34-23, playing on a short week Thursday night. After trailing 21-0 and 28-7 in the first half, Baltimore battled back within five points (28-23) in the fourth quarter, but could not complete the comeback. Flacco was 32-of-55 for 376 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while being sacked 4 times. Bengals QB Andy Dalton was 24 of 42 for 265 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Receiver A.J. Green caught 3 touchdown passes, while Tyler Boyd hauled in the other. Baltimore outgained the Bengals 425 to 373 in total yardage.

BY THE NUMBERS

305 -- Yards per game allowed by the Ravens, second in the NFL behind the Buffalo Bills.

PLAYER NOTES

-- QB Joe Flacco (right hip) did not practice Wednesday and will be a “game-time decision” to start against the Bengals on Sunday. Flacco suffered the injury in the previous game against the Steelers. He was hurt in the first series but finished the game and completed 23 of 27 passes for 209 yards.

-- LT Ronnie Stanley (ankle) was limited in practice Wednesday after missing the previous game against the Steelers. Stanley said he is “day-to-day” and uncertain whether he could play against the Bengals in Week 11.

-- RT James Hurst (back) has missed three consecutive games and was held out of practice Wednesday. Hurst is a valuable lineman capable of playing multiple positions.

-- LB Tim Williams is dealing with an ankle injury and was limited at practice Wednesday. He also missed the previous game against Pittsburgh with the same injury. The second-year player from Alabama has shown some strides this year as a pass rusher.

-- S Tony Jefferson (thigh) was held out of practice Wednesday. He was also listed as questionable for the previous game against the Steelers with a hamstring but was able to play. If Jefferson cannot play, Anthony Levine could start in his place.

-- CB Tavon Young was able to fully practice Wednesday after leaving the previous game against the Steelers with an ankle injury. Coach John Harbaugh said the extra rest with the bye has helped Young, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

-- RG Marshal Yanda. The six-time Pro Bowler has not been hampered from offseason shoulder surgery. Yanda should be rested and ready to go against Cincinnati after getting an extra week of rest with the bye. He will play a pivotal role anchoring the offensive line that has been hampered by injuries all season. The Bengals had four sacks in Week 2, so the Ravens need to do a better job with blocking in this critical meeting.

GAME PLAN

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is a game-time decision because of a sore hip. If he cannot 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, but he could struggle to throw 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. If Jackson does start, the Bengals will keep constant pressure on him to potentially force mistakes.

Cincinnati amassed 373 total yards against the Ravens in the first meeting. The Ravens caught a huge break with receiver A.J. Green was 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 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 Ty Boyd from making long receptions downfield.

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.

Quarterback Andy Dalton will target both players for much of the night. Humphrey and Carr will get some extra support from safeties Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson. 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 and John Brown vs. Bengals CBs Williams Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick

Baltimore has more weapons on offense than in previous years, but this unit has failed to make plays over the past month. Crabtree, Snead and Brown have struggled to get open as opposing defenses have adjusted to the Ravens downfield schemes. Brown managed four catches for 92 yards and 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.

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