`Week 12 has become a ‘must win’ game for the Ravens after Pittsburgh regained the division lead with a resounding victory on Thanksgiving. The Bengals have given the Ravens trouble recently, Cincinnati has won five straight in the series.
Star receiver A.J. Green will be held out due to injury, his absence is equalized by top corner Jimmy Smith, who is also sidelined. Big plays should come at a premium in this contest, it appears to be a grind-it-out AFC North classic. Whichever team is able to win the line of scrimmage and the turnover battle will likely emerge victorious.
- Ravens will rush for more than 130 yards
The Bengals allowed Buffalo to rush for 183 yards last week, and enter this game with the 28th ranked run defense in the league. The Ravens went away from their running game last week, due to game situation, but managed 6.3-yards per carry on 16 attempts against Dallas. The offensive line is playing better not that Ronnie Stanley and Marshal Yanda have returned. Terrance West and Kenneth Dixon are developing into a potent one-two punch. Expect the Ravens to utilize a conservative gameplan in this match, relying on rushing the ball and their stingy defense.
- Ravens will hold Jeremy Hill under 2 yards per carry
After facing the Cowboys excellent rushing attack, the Ravens still boast the top ranked run defense in the league. Jeremy Hill will have to carry the load since Gio Bernard tore his ACL last week, and Hill is the exact type of power runner the Ravens defense excels against. In four career games against Baltimore, Hill has averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Brandon Williams and Lawrence Guy have favorable matchups against center Russell Bodine and left guard Clint Boling. Expect the Ravens to stack the box and force Andy Dalton to throw to an inconsistent receiving corps.
- Ravens will score a defensive touchdown
The defense failed to record a turnover for the first time since Week 1 last Sunday, but the home crowd should help them get back on track. The Ravens have 17 takeaways on the season, while the Bengals have 11 giveaways. Last year, C.J. Mosley returned an Andy Dalton fumble for a touchdown at home. With Cincinnati missing all three of their best wide receivers from last season, Dalton will have to hold onto the ball longer, allowing Terrell Suggs and Matt Judon to pressure him off the edge, or force the ball into Tyler Eifert, where Mosely and Eric Weddle will have opportunities to jump the pass. Rookie Tavon Young is another ballhawk primed to make his presence felt in this divisional series.
Score Prediction: Ravens 20, Bengals 6