Game of the Week: Bengals-Ravens
That game could have been a huge pick-me-up for this mentally fragile team, but it opened Week 3 by spotting the Steelers a 13-point lead in that game's first 18 minutes. That the Bengals came back to win should surprise no one -- especially Steelers fans. Pittsburgh hasn't been able to put away any opponent all year long. I gave that one a lame golf clap and wasn't a bit surprised when Cincy struggled well into overtime before edging out Cleveland --
In case you missed it, Lewis, who knows this bunch all too well, had the names and numbers removed from his team's practice jerseys before that Cleveland game. I guess that was supposed to get their heads straight. But how many times can he go to that well? And how much do we really believe in a team that can barely be cajoled into beating the Browns?
On the opposite side, is there any doubt whatsoever that Baltimore's defense will get up for this game? Can you remember the last time the Ravens lost without getting royally pissed off about something afterward? Anger is like youth juice for
If only the story ended there. Cincinnati's opposite corner,
Scanning the Ravens' roster, that means you should be looking for
Benson: Loads of potential but never really flashes it when you most expect him to. (For example: 74 yards against Cleveland.) Probably going to break down soon. (Yeah, he's on this week's injury report -- again.) And mentally, well... He leaves something to be desired. That's pretty much your 2009 Bengals right there, no?
They could go 10-6 with this offense, but we'd probably all bet on 8-8 instead. The Bengals struggled in their one gimme game.
Rice: This one's tougher, but the guy's damn versatile, and that's about all you need to say about the Baltimore offense. Pick your poison with Rice. Would you rather die by Rice on the ground, where he has two 100-yard games in a three-man-rotation? Or through the air, where he's the Ravens' third-leading receiver? He'll kill you with both. And that's the Ravens for you.
Now that we've settled that, who would you rather have on your team, given the matchup? Rice against a Bengals' rush defense that, while improved over 2008 (especially with young blood like
Or do you go with Benson against a truly, madly, deeply pissed off Ray Lewis and company? Remember
Do I question the Bengals? Sure I do. More importantly, I fear for anyone traveling to Baltimore this week. Defensively, the Ravens will be on a tear. Poor Carson Palmer will pay for all of
Angry team at home versus somewhat lackadaisical rival on the road. Reminds me too much of Pittsburgh-San Diego last week, and that game was a blowout at the half. If Cincinnati musters a late comeback, per usual, Baltimore has the clock-churning runners to finish it off.