Nickel Package: Five Things to Watch in Ravens vs. Bengals
Aaron Wilson: As the Ravens (10-5) square off with the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, here's a checklist of key people and areas to watch.
Image 2 of 6
2. What will the Ravens do about blocking Geno Atkins?( USA TODAY Sports / December 23, 2012 )
Relentless, strong and quick, Bengals Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins is a dominant interior defensive lineman.
He thrived against Ravens center Matt Birk in the first meeting, a 44-13 loss for Cincinnati where Atkins occasionally lined up at nose guard.
Atkins steamrolled Birk, trampling the veteran blocker to deck quarterback Joe Flacco.
It was ugly, but there was little that Birk could do to slow down Atkins, a big man with bad intentions and outstanding size, speed and power.
Atkins has piled up a career-high 13 sacks and four forced fumbles to go along with 50 tackles.
Active, aggressive and smart, Atkins is an extremely tough assignment for Birk and guards Jah Reid, Marshal Yanda, if he plays, and possibly veteran Bobbie Williams, who would replace Yanda if he's sidelined Sunday.
The Ravens may need to resort to double-teaming Atkins, one of the top defensive linemen in the game regardless of position.
"That's difficult to do, obviously," offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell said. "Extraordinary quickness, great power and strength, he's very difficult where he lines up to double-team him consistently. They move him around just enough in there to give you different looks, but the guy is maybe one of the most powerful interior defensive linemen that you'll ever see. Obviously, it's tough to get sacks from the interior and when you get the number of sacks that he's had from his position, you know he's something special.
"Obviously, you better pay attention to him and you know where he is, and you better try to do a few things to kind of help control him because he can disrupt the entire ballgame. You have to do a number of things to him. You can't just go in there and do exactly the same thing all the time. He's been around the block."