Inside slant for Ravens against Bengals
When the Ravens have the football: Anticipate a run-pass ratio mirroring the balance Baltimore achieved against the 49ers a week ago. Quarterback Anthony Wright will likely stick with his University of South Carolina connection, throwing downfield to Marcus Robinson. The Bengals' undersized secondary looks particularly vulnerable against imposing targets like Robinson and Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap. Key matchup: FB Alan Ricard vs. MLB Kevin Hardy Ricard is a stout lead blocker who does an excellent job of keeping his pad level low to clear pathways for NFL rushing leader Jamal Lewis. Hardy tends to stand even taller than his 6-foot-4, 259 pounds on isolation plays. When the Bengals have the football: Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski has obviously watched film of the Ravens' defense. Hence, he will likely try to pick his spots running away from linebacker Ray Lewis, the AFC Defensive Player of the Month, while attacking Baltimore vertically. Throwing underneath the Ravens' secondary has been ineffective because of the depth of the linebackers' pass drops and the entire defense's agility at open-field tackling. Key matchup: CB Chris McAlister vs. WR Chad Johnson Johnson said he simply can't be covered, by anyone. McAlister is determined to prove he can. This might be the first high-profile matchup where the Ravens' franchise player has to contend with a quarterback and a receiver who are both hitting full stride simultaneously. Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.
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