Why “four” reasons, you ask? It seems like lists these days mean nothing unless they consist of an obscure number (thanks a lot, Buzzfeed). It certainly has nothing to do with the fact that my ex-girlfriend’s favorite number is four and I’ve become found of the number (don’t tell her I said that.) Not at all. I’m hopeless. Let’s get to it.
The Baltimore Ravens last faced-off against the Cincinnati Bengals back in Week 1. Crazy, right? How can it be Week 8 already? The Bengals ended up winning, 23-16. You may remember this was the game where Joe Flacco threw the ball 62 (!!) times, the receivers couldn’t catch a cold, Lardarius Webb was out, Andy Dalton had 400 seconds to throw per drop back, and Chykie Brown had to cover A.J. Green and Green caught a tip-drill touchdown. This time, it’ll be Webb and Jimmy Smith likely taking turns if Green plays, although it’s looking doubtful that Green is out there.
The Bengals have won three of the last four against Baltimore and a win in this game would make it four of the last five and give the Bengals the season series. Regardless of who the better team is (the Ravens at this point), you never want a division rival to have bragging rights with a 2-0 record. A win in Cincinnati would be a nice statement.
2. Cushion in the AFC North
Building off of the last point, a win against the Bengals would push the Ravens to 6-2 and drop Cincy to 3-3-1. The Bengals still have the tough Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers twice, including a matchup with the New Orleans Saints and the Denver Broncos, and a stretch of three-straight road games. It’s not the hardest schedule in the world, but there is definitely potential for a skid.
The Ravens, on the other hand, would continue to build off of their rising momentum and essentially put the already sliding Bengals in the rearview mirror. While the Bengals finish with the Browns, Broncos and Steelers, the Ravens finish up with Jacksonville, Houston and the Browns.
We Ravens fans know that the Ravens can look like a contender one week and a head-scratcher the next. They’ve put together two back-to-back dominating performances and while I don’t expect domination this week, it would be encouraging to see the Ravens put together a complete game with some semblance of rhythm on offense and decent defense, complete with some type of pass rush. Too often the Ravens show greatness and then totally drop off in some aspect the following week. They don’t necessarily have to win the game, I just want to see consistency from a team that is consistently inconsistent.
Many Ravens fans love when the Ravens fly under the radar. I. on the other hand, can’t stand it when pundits continue to leave the Ravens out as one of the best teams in the NFL. The New England Patriots are listed ahead of the Ravens in ESPN’s power rankings. It has always been something that really irks me. So maybe this last point is a selfish one, but a win this week suddenly puts the Ravens in the conversation for best record in the league, depending on what happens with the Dallas Cowboys and the Arizona Cardinals (Denver is 6-1 and already had their bye).
Not only that, but Bill Simmons of ESPN has the Ravens as a contender, and Bill Simmons is my hero so I would prefer if we stayed in his good graces. I told you I had selfish motives.
Expect the Bengals to come out swinging on Sunday. They need this win badly. I’m saving my prediction for the game for my Sunday post so come back then to check it out.
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