Every Wednesday, I’ll serve up five stats you should know heading into that week’s Ravens game. This week’s stats, pertaining to Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, are heavy on what the Ravens need to do to reverse the Week 1 result, and how realistic those goals are.
62 – Quarterback Joe Flacco threw 62 passes the last time the Ravens played Cincinnati, a symptom of a struggling offense that wasn’t quite sure of its identity yet. Since then, he has thrown 183 times -- an average of just more than 30 per game -- and never more than 38, which he did in the Ravens' only other loss against the Indianapolis Colts. If Flacco ends up in the high 30s or the 40s with his pass attempts Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, the Ravens probably won’t be happy with the overall result.
Three – For the third straight game, the Ravens play a defense ranked in the bottom three of the NFL in total defense. The 416.7 yards per game Cincinnati has allowed is 31st in the league, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons at 32nd and 30th, respectively. The Bengals have dealt with injuries of late, and the defense has always given Flacco problems. But they’ve been gashed in recent weeks, and boast the league’s 30th-ranked rush defense in allowing nearly 150 yards per game. If the Ravens offense isn’t rattled early, it could be a big week for the unit yet again.
95.3 – The Bengals have allowed 95.3 yards per game to opposing tight ends this season, a number brought down significantly by the two catches for 13 yards that Atlanta’s nonexistent tight ends posted against them. In the last three games Cincinnati has played, tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Tim Wright, Greg Olsen, and Dwayne Allen have all caught touchdowns against them. If the Ravens do fall into a pass-happy trap against the Bengals, Owen Daniels could be the beneficiary when he gets open over the middle. Dennis Pitta, after all, caught 10 passes the last time these two teams met.
Five – That’s the magic number when it comes to pass rush in this game. The Ravens have picked up five sacks in each of the last two games, while Cincinnati’s offensive line has allowed five all year. (A sixth was charged to wide receiver Mohamed Sanu). Tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith stifled the Ravens’ pass rush in Week 1 and have held outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil without sacks the last two times the teams played. If the Ravens’ pass rush is knocked back Sunday, the entire defense could suffer for it.
14.9 – The Ravens’ defense, which last time these two teams played looked to be a weakness for the team, has tightened up in the red zone and allowed just 10 touchdowns this year -- and just three on the ground. In the season opener, the Ravens held Cincinnati to five field goals and were beaten deep only one time. That’s a recipe for success -- and low-scoring games -- which is what a Ravens offense that has historically struggled against the Bengals will need to win.