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John Clayton’s 10 Things About Tonight’s Bengals/Ravens Game

What are some things to watch tonight?

He’s been called everything from “The Professor” to the “Crypt Keeper” but like him or not ESPN’s John Clayton does carry some weight in NFL analysis. Here are some of his thoughts on tonight’s AFC North match-up. The full article can be found here. I’ll give my thoughts below about Clayton’s take on just the Baltimore side. You can always click on the link and see what he has to say about the opposition.

 Baltimore Ravens

1. Will the Ravens have a pass rush?

This is one of the biggest questions of the night and this season. Without Terrell Suggs can the Ravens generate enough pressure to keep quarterback uncomfortable and give their secondary time to cover? Chuck Pagano was instrumental in bringing back an aggressive, creative style the defense had used for over a decade (at least before Greg Mattison arrived) and Dean Pees appears to have the same philosphy. All eyes will fall on Paul Kruger and rookie Courtney Upshaw to pick up the slack but this is a team game and I’d like to see End Pernell McPhee  get active as well as some safety blitzes with Bernard Pollard.

2. More will fall on the arm of Joe Flacco:

It looks as if the coaching staff is finally ready for Flacco to take total control of his offense. The “sugar huddle” was installed during training camp and Flacco has thrived under the quicker pace. Ray Rice will still get his touches and they won’t abandon the run completely but expect some more of the quick passing game to go with those deep bombs that the Ravens love to throw sometimes.

3. More speed at wide receiver

This year Baltimore has the most speed that its ever had at the receiver position and they plan to use it. Torrey Smith is the deep threat and appears ready to become the #1 target. Jacoby Jones has 4.4 speed and LaQuan Williams  also can fly. As long as Flacco has time he scan the field and spread things around which will make things tough on the Bengals defense.

4. Are the Ravens solid up front?

This was the biggest issue on the offense, who would protect the quarterback? The Ravens have one of the oldest offensive lines in the league but it appears as if rookie Kelechi Osemele has won a spot at Right Tackle which means Michael Oher will switch back to left and troubled Bryant McKinnie is pushed to the pine. Matt Birk is most likely in his last season and while he’s been solid he’s had some trouble against stronger defensive tackles in the past. He’ll need to handle Geno Atkins for Ray Rice to find some holes.

5. Will Ray Rice’s role change?

 Over the past few season the Ravens have passed more than they ran even though their best offensive weapon was and probably still is Ray Rice. Of course Rice can grab some more screens and even lineup in the slot to cause match-up issues. He’ll probably become an even more dangerous asset in the No-Huddle with Draws and and Traps as Baltimore can use the pass to set up the run.

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