Three match ups to watch: Ravens vs. Bengals

1. Green vs. Smith- John Harbaugh has repeatedly stated that Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is the best wide receiver in football and this week Harbaugh’s Ravens will have to find a way to stop the All-Pro pass catcher. Tasked with stopping Green is cornerback Jimmy Smith, who is coming off one of his worst games of the season. Smith is having his best year as a pro and has played well against some of the best receivers in the league this season, but struggled against Tom Brady and the small Patriot wide receivers. Smith was able to hold his own against Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, a player of similar caliber to Green, so Smith knows what to expect this go round with Green. This is going to be a good matchup, but Green has a leg up here at home. Advantage: Bengals

2. Suggs and Dumervil vs. Collins and Smith- The Bengals have shuffled their offensive line since their last meeting with the Ravens. Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth has moved inside to left guard, and Anthony Collins has taken over Whitworth’s spot. Right tackle Andre Smith has been a staple on the line for the past few years and is an absolute mauler. He, however, struggled earlier in the season against the speed of the Ravens front, specifically linebacker Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil had three sacks agains the Bengals earlier in the season and will look for that same type of production on Sunday. His rushing mate Terrell Suggs has struggled in the second half of the season and will need to play better against a tough Bengals line. The Ravens have the talent to push this line around, as shown by their week 10 performance, but haven’t applied great pressure on quarterbacks the past couple of weeks. The Bengals, meanwhile, have done a great job of protecting quarterback Andy Dalton these past few weeks, especially at home, where the Bengals and Dalton have thrived. Advantage: Even

3. Pitta vs. Bengals linebackers and safeties- Tight end Dennis Pitta hasn’t made quite the impact many were hoping he would make when he returned to the team three weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of producing one of his big games we saw from him last postseason. Pitta, despite coming off the hip injury, still has the talent and confidence to make impact plays for the Ravens. The issue, though, is opposing teams are zeroing in on Pitta and trying to shut him down. The Lions and Patriots were successful in stopping Pitta, and the rest of the Ravens offense struggled as a result. If the Ravens are going to win this game they are going to need Pitta to make plays. The Bengals have a solid linebacking corps led by Vontaze Burfict, but Pitta has exposed this group before. The same can be said about Bengals safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker, who have struggled with covering Pitta when left on an island with him. Pitta can win these one-on-one match ups, it is a matter of whether or not the Bengals will leave Pitta in single coverage or bracket him. Advantage: Even

 

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