To say that Joe Burrow had the Ravens' number last season would be a colossal understatement. The Bengals quarterback torched Baltimore's defense as Cincinnati won both games against their AFC North division rival. Burrow was on fire in both games, throwing for a combined 941 yards and seven touchdowns. He threw for a franchise-record 525 yards during Cincinnati's blowout win over Baltimore in Week 16.
After a slow start, Burrow and the Bengals are back to last year's AFC championship form. Cincinnati enters Sunday night's game with a two-game winning streak after posting decisive wins over the Jets and Dolphins to even their record at 2-2. Baltimore is also 2-2 after losing two heartbreaking games in the past three weeks. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been facing heavy backlash after making several questionable coaching decisions during last week's last-minute loss to Buffalo.
Below is a full breakdown of Sunday night's marquee matchup, along with information on how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch Bengals-Ravens
- When: Sunday, Oct. 9 | Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- Where: M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore)
- TV: NBC | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
- Follow: CBS Sports App
- Odds: BAL -3.5, O/U 48 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
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When the Bengals have the ball
Cincinnati's much-maligned offensive line has done a much better job protecting Burrow during the team's current winning streak. With time to throw, Burrow has continued to have success getting the ball to wideout Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Burrow has also developed a rapport with Hayden Hurst, an offseason addition who has emerged as the Bengals' top pass-catching tight end.
The Bengals have struggled to run the ball, however, as Joe Mixon enters Sunday's game with a 2.7 yards-per-carry average. While that average is alarming, the Bengals were able to have enough success on the ground during their most recent win over Miami to pick up several first downs while also minimizing the Bengals' down-and-distance on possession downs.
Baltimore's defense has several weaknesses Cincinnati can exploit. The Ravens are dead last in the NFL In pass defense, 23rd in yards-per-carry allowed and 25th in red zone efficiency. Cincinnati will have to continue to limit its third-and-long situations on Sunday, however, as Baltimore boasts the league's eighth best defense on third down.
A pass rush will be necessary for the Ravens if they are going to slow Cincinnati's offense down. That responsibility will largely fall on the shoulders of Patrick Queen, Justin Madubuike, and Odafe Oweh, who along with Justin Houston are responsible for six of the team's eight sacks through four games. Houston, however, will not suit up due to a groin injury.
When the Ravens have the ball
Lamar Jackson has shown no signs of rust after missing the end of the 2021 season with an injury. The former league MVP continues to be one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Along with throwing 11 touchdowns and completing 65% of his throws, Jackson leads the Ravens with 316 rushing yards and two touchdowns while averaging a staggering 9.3 yards per carry. Jackson should start to see a decline in his rushing totals, with running backs J.K. Dobbins and Justice Hill returning from last year's season-ending injuries. Hill, though, will miss the game with a hamstring injury.
Mark Andrews continues to be Jackson's primary target, with second-year wideout Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay emerging as reliable options for Jackson, particularly as scoring threats. The Ravens offense, however, will have to make due without Bateman on Sunday night, who has been ruled out with a foot injury. Veteran Demarcus Robinson will likely see more targets with Bateman out.
Baltimore's offense will face a Bengals defense that, unlike Cincinnati's offense, has been good from the onset of the 2022 season. The unit is currently eighth in the NFL in scoring, fifth in rushing, third in third-down efficiency and seventh in red zone efficiency. Cincinnati's defense has received stellar play from Trey Hendrickson (2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles), Logan Wilson (26 tackles and an interception) and Vonn Bell (two interceptions). And while pass defense is still not its strength, Cincinnati has improved in that area after it failed to stop Matthew Stafford at the end of February's Super Bowl.
Winning third down is going to be the key for the Ravens defense. But even if the unit is able to come up with its share of third-down stops, it's hard to fathom Cincinnati's offense not coming close to matching the success it had over Baltimore last season, especially with its upgraded offensive line. On the other side of the ball, Cincinnati's defense should be able to minimize Jackson's running while minimizing his success through the air, especially with Bateman out.
Don't be surprised if this game includes several clutch kicks by two of the NFL's best in Evan McPherson and Justin Tucker. Both McPherson and Tucker are 3-for-3 this season attempting field goals of at least 50 yards.
Score: Bengals 26, Ravens 17