EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens slow Bengals' playmakers?

EARLY BIRD: Can Ravens slow Bengals' playmakers?
December 27, 2013, 7:00 am
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3-and-out: Can Ravens win on the road?

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) catches a touchdown pass during the second half against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Bengals won 17-10.

(Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

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EARLY BIRD: Waking up with the Ravens, on what could be the last weekend of their season.

Today’s question: Can the Ravens contain Bengals playmakers like wide receiver A. J. Green and running back Giovani Bernard?

Green has caught 17 passes this season that have netted at least 20 yards. Bernard has 1,136 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns.

No wonder Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees is worried this week. The Bengals are averaging 43.5 points over their last four home games. That is a major reason why the Bengals are unbeaten (7-0) at home.

“The key thing for us is just to play sound football, stop the run and don’t give up big plays,” Pees said. “The teams that have beaten them haven’t given up big plays. Cleveland played them real early in the season and did not give up a play over 20 yards. Indianapolis gave up five, Jets gave up six, Minnesota gave up six. You can’t do that against this team.”

The Ravens did a solid job defensively against the Bengals last month, beating them 20-17 in Baltimore in overtime. If not for a successful Hail Mary pass to end regulation, the Bengals would have been held to 10 points.

But at home, the Bengals are more explosive and quarterback Andy Dalton makes fewer mistakes. If the Ravens do not play well defensively, there will be a price to pay.

Morning thought: “The group that’s going to show up on Sunday is going to fight until the last whistle until it’s all over. Hopefully, it’s good enough to take care of business.” - Ravens running back Ray Rice.

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