The upstart Bengals head to Baltimore tied for second place in the AFC North with the Ravens…surprisingly. If you had Cincinnati at 6-3 after nine games this season then that makes you one of either two things…a liar, or a delusional Bengal fan. But they are 6-3 and for the first time in forever Cincy fans are feeling real optimism.
Optimism is something that’s missing over in the other dressing room, as the Ravens have been stumbling the way through the season like a co-ed after a mickey of lemon gin (yeah, I know, weak analogy). But despite also sitting at 6-3, there’s a feeling of unease in the Baltimore camp. They simply haven’t looked good in too many starts, particularly for a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
The time is nigh for these Ravens…are they really a Super Bowl contender or the proverbial pretenders. They’re running outof time if they want to be a part of the Super Bowl storyline. If they’re serious, this is a game they have to win and it’s a game they should win.
I think they do step forward and make a statement this week. They’re coming off a loss last week out on the road in Seattle (yes, Seattle), which followed on the heels of a near miss vs. Arizona. In the losses, or even close wins, the offense has sputtered continually, while
the defense has been soft and undisciplined. During the convincing wins they’ve looked every bit like an elite team.
Look for that “elite” team to show up on Sunday, even without Ray Lewis. Cincy has been a nice story, led by a fantastic rookie duo of Andy Dalton and AJ Green and a stout defense. Unfortunately AJ Green won’t play this week and this is an offense that can go cold for long stretches even with their top playmaker.
Cincy needs to step up in class this week again, as they did last week vs. the Steelers. They’ve enjoyed a relatively easy schedule until now. They lost at home to the Steelers and now travel to a face a better team…a team coming off an embarrassing loss…a team that is one of the best home teams in the league…a team looking to stomp someone.
NFL Picks: I’m playing what I believe will be a prepared Baltimore team to win the game and cover the 7 points.