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By: Kyle Barber
Some information given to us courtesy of Cincy Jungle’s Anthony Cosenza, PART II
In preparing for Thursday’s matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, Cincy Jungle’s Anthony Cosenza and I sat down for a small Q&A for one another’s publications.
Check out the Q&A below, and be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook for all your betting needs this season.
1. The Bengals lost to the Houston Texans in Week 10, 30-27. For Ravens fans that couldn’t watch, what culminated in the loss? Where did the Bengals struggle? What did the Texans do to come out on top?Basically, a cumulation of a number of errors came to fruition this week. Joe Burrow threw two interceptions, both of which were in Texans territory, that side of the ball had the dreaded first half dry spell we saw earlier in the year (four consecutive punts in the drives preceding halftime) the defense allowed 17 “explosive plays” to Houston and a couple of huge drops at critical moments sealed their fate.
Injuries also played a key in this one (I probably don’t need to gripe about that to the Ravens’ faithful), with Trey Hendrickson not being 100% and major contributors in wide receivers Tee Higgins and Charlie Jones (the guy who had a punt return touchdown against Baltimore this year), as well as defensive linemen Sam Hubbard and Josh Tupou all being out, Cincinnati just didn’t have a lot of answers against the Texans.
This was one of those games wherein the offseason losses of both veteran stud safeties, Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell, were sorely missed, but this was also a loss that accentuated some of the roster holes that were exploited early in 2023. These all point to a number of areas of concern for the team going forward.
2. The injury lists for both teams appear to be piling up. What are the expectations for who will and won’t play on Thursday for the Bengals? Who are the depth players behind them? Is this a big drop off, if so?
Initially, it looked like Hendrickson wouldn’t be playing this Thursday, not only because of a nagging ankle injury since the San Francisco game, but also because of a last-play knee injury he suffered against Houston. He was diagnosed with a hyperextended knee and we were all resigned to his not playing this week.
However, at Tuesday’s practice, he was surprisingly seen looking explosive in defensive line drills. Hubbard and Higgins didn’t practice though, which doesn’t bode well on a short, road-bound week, but they might be game-time decisions. Tupou also looked to practice Tuesday, which may be a key facet to stopping the Ravens’ vaunted rushing attack.
If Hubbard can’t go, that’s a big blow to the defense, particularly this week, as he’s often used as a spy against Baltimore and sets the edge against the run well, overall. And, of course, Higgins (a guy who scored two touchdowns in the first go-round) would be a big loss to the offense. He also didn’t play in last year’s Thursday night contest, so having him in these critical divisional matchups are crucial.
3. Is it fair to say Burrow is back to his normal, healthy self? After all, he’s thrown 12 touchdowns in the past five weeks after throwing only two in the first four weeks.
Yes. The Ravens and their faithful will see a Joe Burrow much more akin to the guy that has been highly-productive against them over the past two years. In their four-game win streak before this last loss to the Texans, Burrow had 10 touchdown passes against two interceptions, while often being seen running out of pressure situations. Last week he threw two bad interceptions, but had two other touchdown passes and would have had another if not for a Tyler Boyd would-be game-winning touchdown towards the end.
Barring something unforeseen, Burrow will be his old self this Thursday. The other factors reside in Higgins’ availability, the short week with travel and if Cincinnati can get an early lead or not.
4. What has changed most for the Bengals since these two teams met up in Week 2? Positive? Negative?
I would say what has changed is finding their identities on both sides of the ball and/or embracing those identities. Burrow has healed from his calf injury and he has sought out Ja’Marr Chase for the big play. Cincinnati has some roster deficiencies, but they’ve attempted to find answers at spots like tight end by bringing up pass-catching specialist Tanner Hudson to make Burrow even more comfortable.
On defense, it isn’t the group we’ve seen from years past that excels at simply getting the ball back and forcing punts. This group will give up yards and some points, but also creates the huge game-swinging plays with turnovers. They had been getting to the quarterback somewhat-frequently earlier this year, but that has fallen off a bit.
5. The spread for Thursday’s game, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, is Ravens -3.5. Do you agree with the spread? Why/Why not?
I honestly don’t know. At first blush, I think this is a game that has a Ravens win written all over it. But, if some of the Bengals’ key guys end up being healthy and playing this Thursday, it changes the complexion a bit. I think what’s most interesting is that both teams may have a feeling of having their proverbial backs against the wall in this one and want divisional breathing room.
Both teams have proven to fight off both their rivals and critics in these types of situations, so it’s incredibly intriguing to see who comes out on top. Aside from the 3.5-point line, the earlier DK prop bet of each team scoring 20 or more points is also one to watch. If you remember, last year’s Thursday night’s Baltimore win was a 19-17 final.
I actually see a very similar result in this one with a coin flip as to who the winner will be. However, if most/all of the names like Hendrickson, Hubbard, Higgins and Tupou are inactive against the Ravens, the home team has a significant advantage here.
Originally posted on Baltimore Beatdown – All Posts