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AFC North Preview: Week 7

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

With the Steelers and Browns both on bye weeks, the Bengals and Ravens are the only AFC North squads taking the field in Week 7. Here’s a preview of their contests:

Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)

After failing to get a win through the first six weeks of the season, the Bengals have quickly been left behind in the AFC North. Rookie head coach Zac Taylor will have to continue to rally his troops against the Jacksonville Jaguars despite the stockpiling losses and injuries.

After hope that star wide receiver A.J. Green could possibly return, he has since been ruled out. The bigger problem on offense, however, remains the offensive line. With offensive tackles Cordy Glenn and Andre Smith, and guard John Miller all declared out, the unit remains in shambles against Jacksonville’s vaunted pass rush.

Injuries have taken a heavy toll on defense as well with cornerbacks Williams Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick both out for Sunday against the Jaguars. Defensive end Carl Lawson will miss the game as well and Carlos Dunlap is listed as doubtful to play.

Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

On the heels of back-to-back divisional wins against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, Baltimore is now faced with what could be their hardest challenge of the season this Sunday against the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks.

The biggest story surrounding this matchup is the return of safety Earl Thomas IIII to Seattle. Thomas spent the first nine seasons of his illustrious career with the Seahawks before signing with the Ravens this offseason. The spotlight will also be on another defensive back for Baltimore, cornerback Marcus Peters, who was acquired via trade from the Los Angeles Rams this week. How fast Peters is able to acclimate to the defense will be vital in stopping Wilson through the air.

Meanwhile, on offense, a forecast of rain and wind will most likely dictate a heavy running attack for the Ravens. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will possibly be without his top wide receiver in Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Without Brown, Baltimore’s offense lacks a true deep threat, meaning Seattle will be able to key in on the run easier. Expect a heavy dose of all three running backs as well as Jackson on the ground this Sunday.