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Ravens News 12/23: AFCN Showdown and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Power Rankings, Week 16: A gift for every team, including a big award for the Cowboys’ Micah Parsons - Jones & Kosmider

14. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)

Previous rank: 12

Week 15 result: Lost to the Packers, 31-30

Our gift to you: A healthy Lamar Jackson. Yes, backup Tyler Huntley has played well in the last two weeks. And, yes, Jackson was struggling even before suffering an ankle injury early in a Week 14 loss to the Browns. But Baltimore can only be the best version of itself if the 2019 MVP is under center down the stretch. The Ravens are facing a massive game against the 8-6 Bengals on Sunday. Jackson is 5-2 in his career as a starter against Cincinnati with 11 touchdowns (nine passing, two rushing) and three turnovers. Let’s gift NFL fans a battle of young quarterbacks worth watching Sunday.

2022 Pro Bowl: PFF’s selections for the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters - Anthony Treash

Fullback

Patrick Ricard, Baltimore Ravens (74.6)

Only four fullbacks have logged over 100 snaps thus far in the 2021 season, but Ricard is the highest-graded of the bunch. A big reason for that has been his blocking. Across 291 run-block snaps, Ricard has earned an 88.1 run-blocking grade.

Tight End

Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (91.0)

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (82.4)

Interior Defensive Line

Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers (91.3)

Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs (86.9)

Calais Campbell, Baltimore Ravens (84.4)

Christian Wilkins, Miami Dolphins (83.6)

Special Teams

K Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens (92.8)

NFL insider notes: Bears need to change with the times and relieve Matt Nagy of his duties - Jason La Canfora

AFC North is Bengals’ to lose

It’s seemed to me for quite some time that the Bengals were the best team in the AFC North – an AFC North that looks patently mediocre rather than special. And I still believe Cincy will win that division, and could take a major step in that direction hosting the wounded Ravens on Sunday.

The last time the Bengals and Ravens met, in Baltimore on Week 7, it was one-sided. The Bengals scored 28 unanswered points in the second half of that game to cement a 41-17 blowout, and it’s the way they did it that makes me think it will be more of the same in the rematch. Cincy adjusted its protections for some A-gap blitzes at halftime of that game, and they destroyed the Ravens with a downfield attack in the second half.

With three receivers who all could be the star, tight ends who gave the Ravens fits in the first game, and pass catching running backs, this could be a bad combination for Baltimore. The Bengals offensive line has some issues, and we’ll have to see if this young team is ready to mature and win big games like this at home after slip ups against the Chargers and 49ers, but I could certainly see them making a statement here.

Taylor-Made Takes: With Two Division Games Remaining, ‘A Lot Of Football Left’ - Geoff Hobson

GH: The way Ja’Marr Chase went off against the Ravens back in October for 201 yards, is that kind of the dividing line when teams started to cover you guys differently?

ZT: I don’t know that. Baltimore has always had a lot of faith in their corners. Especially when those guys are healthy and they’ve got a good group. They play a lot of man coverage and that’s won them a lot of games. We were able to make some plays that led to some big ones and Ja’Marr was able to do that, too. I don’t know that other teams played us differently because of that game. It’s hard for me to say. Not everybody’s got the strength in the secondary that Baltimore has, so it’s hard to say.

GH: Have you acquired an appreciation for Ravens head coach John Harbaugh?

ZT: They’ve been as consistent as any team in this league for a really long time. Certainly since he’s been there. He’s always got his guys ready to play. They’ve got an identity and they stick with it and their players clearly believe in what they’re doing in all three phases and that’s a lot of credit to the head coach.

Week 16: Ravens Vs. Bengals Preview, Where to Watch, Prediction - Todd Karpovich

The Ravens allowed five sacks in the Bengals 41-17 victory in Week 7. Bengals defensive end Trey Hendrickson is a game-wrecker with 13 sacks and Sam Hubbard has managed 7.5 sacks. Baltimore managed 390 yards of offense in that first game but was shut out in the fourth quarter. The Ravens need to control the game to keep the Bengals’ offense off the field.

The Bengals completely dominated the Ravens in that first game, racking up 520 yards of offense. Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 416 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens need to keep him under pressure. Ja’Marr Chase had 201 yards receiving against Marlon Humphrey, who has since suffered a season-ending injury. Anthony Averett will be tasked with stopping Chase. The other Cincinnati receivers, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, also can create matchup problems. The Bengals are equally adept at running the ball with Joe Mixon, who has 1,094 yards rushing.

Prediction

Ravens 28, Bengals 26

NFL picks, predictions for Week 16: Bengals edge Ravens; Packers down Browns; Cowboys keep pace - Bill Bender

Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals (-2.5)

Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS

The Bengals beat the Ravens 41-17 in the first meeting, and a win would result in season sweeps of Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same season. The Ravens have won the last two at Paul Brown Stadium in blowout fashion, but Lamar Jackson (ankle) still is questionable. Tyler Huntley filled in well the last two weeks, but a beat-up secondary against Joe Burrow is not ideal. The Bengals win a close one this time.

Pick: Bengals 29, Ravens 27