Loss to Bengals would end Ravens season
Bengals at Ravens, 1 p.m. Sunday
Three key matchups to watch.
1. Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green vs. Ravens secondary.
Green leads the league in receiving yards, and Bengals wide receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu are also dangerous. Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees believes Green is special.
“He’s got all the tools,” Pees said. “The guy can go up and get the ball. He’s strong, physical, fast, can build speed. He’s a great receiver, that’s the only way I can put it.”
Lardarius Webb is coming off a poor game against the Browns, and quarterbacks have been attacking both Webb and Corey Graham all season. Remember when Jimmy Smith was getting criticized during training camp? Smith has become the Ravens’ most reliable corner, but he was listed as questionable (hamstring) on Friday’s injury report, as was Graham (calf). Green going against a banged up secondary could mean big problems for the Ravens.
2. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict vs. Ravens running back Ray Rice.
If Rice can make a tackler like Burfict miss, it would be a positive sign that Rice is regaining his explosiveness. A hard hitter with a nose for the football, Burfict leads the NFL in tackles. Rice is averaging just 2.7 yards per carry and desperately needs a strong game. There’s hope for Rice, because the Bengals will star defensive tackle Geno Adkins, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week. Without Adkins, the Bengals gave up 105 yards to Dolphins running back Lamar Miller. We’ll see if Rice can capitalize the way Miller did.
3. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton vs. Ravens pass rush.
Dalton makes plays, but he also makes mistakes. His three-week hot streak ended against the Dolphins, when Dalton threw three interceptions. The pass rush led by Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil may be the only constant strength that the Ravens have displayed this season. If the Ravens pressure Dalton into turnovers, that could make the difference.