Week 17 Tale of the Tape: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens
- QuarterbackThe Bengals are ending the season in a way that indicates all is lost, and there’s no reason to expect much of an effort here based on the way the team has played in recent weeks. Andy Dalton is a decent quarterback when he has excellent play from his line and a solid running game, but he tends to panic and throw the ball into coverage at the most crucial moments.The Ravens will find themselves as a playoff team if they can win this game at home. It has been a remarkable turnaround after an awful start to the season, and head coach John Harbaugh deserves credit. Joe Flacco has had a tough season and his yards per pass are way down, but he seems to have picked up his level after the awful start.
- OffenseOne of the most inexplicable stats during the 2017 season is seeing the Bengals at the bottom of the offensive rankings. They are dead last in yards per game and rushing yards per game, and they are not likely to do anything in that area against the Ravens. A.J. Green is a talented receiver who struggles after taking a big hit. Brandon LaFell is a decent secondary receiver.The Ravens started to turn the season around when they started to give the ball to Alex Collins and he began to produce in the running game. Collins is not a superstar, but he is steady and he is not going to fumble very often. The duo of Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin has improved quite a bit over the second half of the season and can make game-changing plays.
- DefenseThe Bengals have decent personnel on defense and played fairly well for the majority of the season. However, this unit has gotten overrun in recent weeks because the offense has been hopeless and the defensive players have gotten worn down and out. Discipline is often an issue here, as emotional players take ridiculous penalties that put the Bengals in a terrible position.The Ravens have been dependent on their defense for years, and that has not changed this season. The Ravens will struggle when they are competing against the best offensive teams, but they can hold their own against average of below units. Inside linebacker C.J. Mosley is one of the most productive tacklers in the league, while Terrell Suggs has been resurgent with 11.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals are average in this area, and that’s not going to help them against a superb special teams unit. Cincinnati does a decent job of keeping opponents from making big returns, but Alex Erickson is just an ordinary return man. Randy Bullock is not the kind of kicker to depend on In clutch situations.The Ravens are always among the best teams in the league when it comes to special teams, and they are at the top of the heap this year. The Ravens do an exceptional job in coverage, while Bobby Rainey and Michael Campanaro are both dangerous return specialists. Justin Tucker will not miss clutch kicks.
The Ravens can take care of business early in this game if they come out of the gate hard. The only mistake they could make is assuming the Bengals will quit. They probably will, but no team should make that assumption about its opponent.