The Baltimore Ravens will host their rival division mates Cincinnati on Monday night to kickoff their 2012 campaign. Both teams made the playoffs last season but fell short of the Super Bowl, and are hoping to start their question for a championship on the right foot.
Those making their NFL picks for the Super Bowl are under the impression that the Ravens are a little further along than the Bengals are. Cincinnati has some serious issues which could hamper them in the opener and beyond – particularly on offense.
The Bengals let go of 1000-yard rusher Cedric Benson but only replaced him with BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which is actually a downgrade in almost every category except fumbles. While the running game should be weaker, the passing game could be as well as the Bengals don’t have a second quality receiver opposite of A.J. Green since Jerome Simpson signed in Minnesota.
On top of that, the Bengals have already lost two starting offensive linemen for the season and another of last year’s contributors, guard Bobbie Williams, now plays for the Ravens. Needless to say, it could be tough sledding for the Bengals in Baltimore on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Ravens offense has looked good in the preseason. Everyone knows that Ray Rice is capable of getting the job done as a runner and receiver, but the questions have always surrounded Joe Flacco and the passing game. The Ravens installed a new no-huddle attack, which worked wonders in the preseason. The Ravens averaged 27 points per game in four preseason contests, which includes the 12 they scored in the finale when they rested their starters.
The Bengals played the Ravens very tough last season but this could be a different story. Don’t be surprised if Baltimore lays the wood to Cincinnati and wins their first meeting of the season very comfortably.