This one could get ugly. A bruising battle between division foes kicks off on Monday night as the Baltimore Ravens play host to the Cincinnati Bengals.
If the NFL odds are anything to go by, the Ravens will take home the win here in Week 1.
What we do know is that a victory is certainly going to have to be earned the hard way first and foremost. These are two tough-nosed football teams that don’t back down in the slightest.
The Ravens enter the season with high expectations again, and why not? They have their key offensive guys all returning and their defense should be strong again as well.
Joe Flacco has looked strong in the preseason and will have no shortage of talent to lean on in the passing game. He has Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin and don’t forget about Ray Rice, who’s proven to be Flacco’s favorite target in recent seasons.
Rice is coming off another monster season and again will the focal point of the offense. One of the best receiving backs in the league, he’s an immensely difficult player to deal with.
The offense will live and die on how Flacco is able to do. He’s been serviceable since becoming the starter in Baltimore but some are questioning whether he has the skillset to ever become an elite quarterback in the NFL.
The Ravens do have a few special players on defense to count on too. Haloti Ngata is one of the best defensive ends around, while Ray Lewis continues to be one of the most feared players. In the secondary, Ed Reed makes things happen, while Lardarius Webb has emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
It seems all the pieces are in place for another solid season for Baltimore. A win over Cincinnati on Monday night would be a dream start.