1. Contain Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson. Heading into today's game against
the Cincinnati Bengals (7-3), it's imperative that the Baltimore Ravens (3-7)
slow down one of the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandems in the NFL.
While Palmer is the top-rated passer in the NFL, Johnson leads the AFC in
receptions and yards. They connected for eight receptions for 189 yards and a
touchdown in last week's 45-37 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Both players have
a history of excelling against the Ravens, whose secondary will be severely
tested by the two standout skill players. In nine career games against the
Ravens, Johnson has caught 44 passes for 712 yards and five touchdowns. Palmer
has been very successful against Baltimore, too. In three career games, he has
completed 73 of 114 passes (64 percent) for 946 yards, five touchdowns and four
interceptions for a 90.0 passer rating. For the Ravens, it's going to require a
vintage effort that must combine an aggressive pass rush and tight coverage to
have a chance to topple the Bengals. It will be interesting to see what approach
first-year defensive coordinator Rex Ryan employs.
2. Be stingy in the red zone. The Bengals have scored on their last nine trips inside opponents' 20-yard line and rank 11th in the NFL with a 56.8 touchdown percentage (21 of 37). Baltimore is tied for 10th in the NFL in defensive red-zone percentage at a 50-percent clip.
3. Win the turnover battle. The Bengals lead the NFL with a plus-20 turnover ratio, and baltimore ranks 29th with a minus-11 ratio. The Ravens are 0-5 when they lose the turnover battle this season. Under head coach Marvin Lewis, the Bengals are 15-1 when they win the turnover battle and haven't lost a game with a plus-differential since Oct. 17 of last season at Cleveland.
4. Keep an eye on rookie receiver Chris Henry. Henry could be a future star with his combination of size (6-foot-4, 200 pounds), speed and hands. Tagged with an attitude problem for his unflattering on-field behavior at West Virginia, Henry seems to have matured and has caught four touchdowns.
5. Hold on to the football. Jamal Lewis has not only slumped to 508 yards to rank 24th in the NFL, he also leads all NFL running backs with four lost fumbles.
In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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