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Ravens at Bengals: 3 defensive keys to victory

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Another year facing the Cincinnati Bengals, and another year hoping they figure out how to contain the Andy Dalton’s offense. The Ravens have figured them out, but never executed the game plan for a full 60 minutes. Rather, their human kryptonite, A.J. Green, has burned them for what feels like half his total receiving yards and touchdowns. But with additions in the secondary, Tony Jefferson, Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey, hopefully they’ve brought about enough defensive skill to finish a game with the Ravens leading on the scoreboard.

A.J. Green, stop him

An entire section is dedicated to stopping this man. No other player in the NFL is more lethal against Baltimore than this supervillian. His constant heroics continue to keep Baltimore from the postseason. His playmaking continues to show when the Bengals need it most, and the Ravens need it least. Dean Pees and the defense need to contain him. Keep the ball out of his hands, keep Andy Dalton from looking his way. Bracket coverage is a must. Don’t let him break loose over the top, don’t let him out of your sight.

Hit Andy Dalton

The two best Bengals offensive linemen, Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler, are now playing for different teams. Use this to the fullest advantage possible. Terrell Suggs struggled against Whitworth, but with a ‘new’ left tackle, three-year player Cedric Ogbuehi, get through him and make a play. The young passrushers need to perform also. Matt Judon and Tyus Bowser have looked sharp in preseason, bring that level of play to the regular season and take down their franchise quarterback. On the inside, Brandon Williams and Michael Pierce are capable of getting through with Zeitler no longer stonewalling rushers. It doesn’t matter how good the coverage is when Dalton can stay clean. Give him time and he’ll pick the defense apart.

Remember there are other playmakers

Though A.J. Green has made it look like a one-man show, keep in mind there are other dominant players on the Bengals roster.

Tyler Eifert is no joke. He’s healthy and capable of embarrassing any defense in the NFL.

Their runningback tandem-turned-trio is formidable. While they can pass, don’t think that’s their only way of moving the chains. They acquired Joe Mixon in the draft, and already had two starting runningbacks in Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard.

There are other receivers on Cincy’s roster, including Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. Though the main focus is Green, blanketing him and leaving the others open still puts them in the redzone, where they have too many players and too much skill to not put seven on the board at some point.

In their last seven contests, the Bengals have averaged over 25 points per game. For such a talented defense, that’s too many points being scored against. Baltimore won’t win a shootout against Cincy with Joe Flacco on a short schedule. Keep the scoring low and cease their drives early, before it’s too late.