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Ravens News 10/22: The Measuring Stick and more

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Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

At the Top of Tight End Heap, Mark Andrews Plans to Keep ‘Going Off’ - Clifton Brown

Andrews has been “going off” all season, tied with Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs for the most receiving yards among NFL tight ends. Andrews’ impressive stats (34 catches, 468 yards, three touchdowns) have called attention to his status as one of the NFL’s best tight ends.

Andrews has leveled up in almost every way, and Pro Football Focus gives him the highest grade among all Ravens players through six games. This is why the Ravens inked Andrews to a four-year extension worth a reported $56 million. Andrews just keeps getting better.

“When he first got here, one day in, I went upstairs and basically told everybody, ‘This guy’s got a feel,’”Roman said. “He’s got an instinct. I think that’s one of his greatest strengths. He knows how to get open, he has a good feel for setting up defenders. He spent a lot of time this offseason working on releases and different nuances of route running. It’s really shown itself on game day. We have high expectations of Mark and he does for himself. That’s kind of where it all starts.”

“Every time we play a division game, at the end of the day, it’s going to be physical, it’s going to be a good game,” Andrews said. “They fly around. They’re a physical team. Up front, it’s going to be a handle to block. So, we have to be on our ‘Ps’ and ‘Qs’ this week. Obviously, a huge game this Sunday at 1 o’clock. I’m expecting the ‘Flock’ to show up.”

Why the improved Bengals are(n’t) ready to challenge the Ravens for AFC North superiority - Ben Baby

There are a couple of options — use the offense to keep Baltimore off the field or find a way to plug the middle of the field and keep Jackson contained. It’s probably going to take a combination of both to slow Jackson down, and even that is asking a lot. Right now, he’s playing like an MVP candidate.

And that’s why, if we have to pick which franchise is better equipped to rule the AFC North moving forward, it has to be Baltimore. Burrow could continue to develop into a very good, if not great, quarterback. But Jackson is playing at that level and somehow keeps getting better.

The other, non-QB factor also goes back to why the Bengals drafted Burrow. They weren’t just looking for a long-term quarterback. Cincinnati needed a franchise facelift. The Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in more than 30 years, and outside of the strong run between 2011 and 2015, have struggled to reach the postseason.

Cincinnati has so much to prove. The Bengals need to show they can continue to adapt and have the ability to truly build a franchise capable of doing what Baltimore and Pittsburgh have accomplished over the last few decades.

That’s what makes this game and this season so important. Cincinnati finally has the team to contend for a division title and be a good franchise moving forward. How the Bengals look against Baltimore will show us what the battle for the AFC North might look like in the coming years.

NFL Week 7: Key matchups and storylines for all 13 games - Ben Linsey

CINCINNATI BENGALS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS (-6)

Matchup to watch: WR Tee Higgins vs. CB Marlon Humphrey

All of the attention has been on Ja’Marr Chase at wide receiver for Cincinnati, and rightfully so. Chase ranks inside the top five among wide receivers in receiving yards as a rookie after opting out of his 2020 season at LSU. However, it’s been Higgins — not Chase — who leads the Bengals in targets (28) in the four weeks that he has been healthy.

Humphrey is expected to line up across from Higgins on more snaps than any of Cincinnati’s other wide receivers this week, per PFF’s WR/CB Matchup Chart. Humphrey has been stingy in coverage the past four weeks, allowing just six receptions on 15 targets.

Biggest storyline: The Ravens have entered the conversation for best team in the afc

Baltimore currently sits atop the AFC standings at 5-1, and it’s closing ground on the top teams in the AFC in PFF’s Power Rankings after a convincing win over the Los Angeles Chargers at home. PFF’s simulations give the Ravens a 20% chance to make the Super Bowl entering Week 7, trailing only Buffalo in the AFC.

NFL picks against the spread - Sheil Kapadia

Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens (-6.5) | 1 p.m. ET, CBS

The Ravens are now 30-8 since the start of the 2019 season. They’ve outscored opponents by a league-best 461 points during that span. The gap is huge between them and the next-best team, the Saints, who have had a plus-298 scoring margin.

The Bengals are coming off of a blowout win against the Lions. Ja’Marr Chase’s hustle and block on Joe Mixon’s touchdown was one of my favorite plays of the week.

And don’t sleep on the Bengals’ defense. They are:

Fifth in EPA per drive

Third in success rate

Third in points allowed

This feels like a measuring stick game for Cincinnati. If the Bengals beat the Ravens on the road and improve to 5-2, look out. I think they’re competitive here, but Baltimore can just win in so many different ways. It looked like they figured some things out defensively last week against the Chargers. I’m not betting against the Ravens.

Pick: Ravens (-6.5)

Week 7 NFL game picks: Baker-less Browns edge Broncos; Ravens top Bengals for sixth straight win - Gregg Rosenthal

Baltimore Ravens 27, Cincinnati Bengals 21

I have more questions about the Bengals’ offense holding up in this litmus test than the defense. The Ravens’ blitz was in full flow last week against the Chargers for the first time, confusing another second-year quarterback and unproven offensive coaching staff. Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Cincinnati’s O-line have proven resourceful this year, although they’ve relied more on moments of individual brilliance than offensive consistency. On the flip side, I’m convinced this juiced-up Cincy D is a top-10 group, the best Lamar Jackson has faced this year; it can keep this game close enough for the Bengals to cover the point spread, even if they don’t win.

NFL Week 7 picks, bets and odds: Tons of big underdogs beg the question, where is Chaos Week? - Will Brinson

Bengals at Ravens

The Bengals are legit, I think. Their defense is good, particularly against the run. Joe Burrow is starting to really come out of the post ACL injury thing. Jonah Williams isn’t getting enough credit for playing well at LT. And Ja’Marr Chase is an absolute monster out there. The Bengals played things right in terms of the draft and it’s paying dividends. I’m not sure if I’m 100 percent sold on Zac Taylor as “the guy” yet but Bengals fans shouldn’t be either. John Harbaugh is the guy, though, and Baltimore is cooking. Lamar Jackson is running less than ever this year, Marquise Brown is having a third-year breakout, Rashod Bateman has returned from injury and Mark Andrews looks like a monster out there. I think the Ravens might be flexing on people over the next few weeks.

The pick: Baltimore 31, Bengals 17