The Baltimore Ravens will host the Cincinnati Bengals in a battle of two of the top AFC North teams in Week 7. Despite a hobbled roster, the Ravens find themselves boasting an impressive 5-1 record through the first six weeks. Lamar Jackson has been phenomenal for Baltimore as he has shown even more growth as a passer this season.
The Bengals are a bit of a surprise as they are second in the AFC North with a 4-2 record in the first six weeks. Joe Burrow has returned from a serious knee injury and is gradually getting better as the season progresses.
Ahead of a battle between two young quarterbacks, here are five reasons why Jackson and the Ravens will defeat the Bengals in Week 7.
Simply put, the Ravens have Jackson and the Bengals do not. Jackson is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the NFL as he’s been able to put the offense on his back through the first six weeks.
The one-time NFL MVP is completing a career-best 67.5 percent of his passes for 1,686 yards, nine touchdowns, and five interceptions. He’s also added 392 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, leading the Ravens in rushing once again.
Jackson has dominated the Bengals in his six career games against them, and even with an improved defense, I don’t see Cincinnati slowing down the dynamic signal-caller.
Bengals Haven’t Faced An Offense Like Baltimore
What makes the offense of the Ravens so unique is they can win in a variety of ways. While they are well-known for their ability to run the ball, Jackson’s growth as a passer has allowed them to put the ball in his hands more.
With J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards out for the season, Baltimore is leaning on a veteran group of Latavius Murray, Le’Veon Bell, and Devonta Freeman. It doesn’t matter who is in the backfield, the Ravens have had little resistance from opposing teams when they run the ball. And if the Bengals sell out to contain the run, Baltimore can lean on Jackson to create plays through the air.
Ravens Are An Offense That Loves Making Big Plays
The Ravens are no strangers to making big plays on the offensive side of the ball this season. Through the first six weeks of the regular season, Baltimore is tied for the third-most explosive plays (20+ yard passes, 10+ yard runs) in the NFL. Altogether, the Ravens have 49 explosive plays, with 26 of them coming in the passing game and 23 of them coming from the diverse rushing attack.
While I believe the Bengals have improved on defense, they won’t be able to prevent the Ravens from connecting on multiple big plays on Sunday.
Baltimore’s Defense Can Make Joe Burrow Uncomfortable
Just this past week, the Ravens made life extremely difficult for Justin Herbert and the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert was held to a season-low 195 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception as Baltimore deployed man coverage for the majority of the game. With the Ravens sending exotic blitzes and showing a capability of being able to cover man-on-man, it puts Burrow in a position to be nearly perfect from under center.
One mistake from Burrow in Week 7 could be enough for the Ravens to secure the win, especially given their offense’s ability to move the ball.
Bengals Play At A Slow Pace, Which Helps The Ravens
Coming into Sunday’s contest, the Ravens and the Bengals both play at one of the slowest paces in the NFL. Cincinnati owns the slowest-paced offense in the league while Baltimore operates as the sixth-slowest offense.
If the Bengals continue their trend of going slow on offense, that feeds right into how the Ravens want to play. Baltimore’s defense can substitute players often, they won’t get gassed easily, and on the other side of the ball, they can control time of possession as well. If this becomes a game of moving the ball down the field at a leisurely pace, the edge goes to the Ravens.