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Predicting the stars of the Ravens-Bengals game

Predicting the stars of the Ravens-Bengals game
Ravens running back Justin Forsett (29) warms up before an NFL preseason football game. (Nick Wass / Associated Press)

Some sports name three stars of the game after the game. I'll do that one better: I'm going to name them before the Ravens even play. These will be the three stars of the game when the Ravens try for their first win of the season on Sunday in the home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.

1. Running back Justin Forsett

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Forsett hasn't been nearly the asset he was last season through the first two weeks of the season, averaging less than 1.5 yards per carry from under center after gaining 5.4 yards per carry from that formation a season ago.

This game isn't going to be a breeze offensively, but the Ravens will do their best to get the ground game going in the home opener. With Lorenzo Taliaferro dealing with another foot injury, Forsett might be just the man to do it. He'll find the end zone for the first time this season and break off the long runs that have eluded him so far.

2. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green

Green missed the second game against the Ravens last year, but had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown, including the game-winning 77-yard touchdown, in the 2014 opener at M&T Bank Stadium. In his past three games against the Ravens, Green has a combined 343 yards on 18 catches.

He'll likely be a big part of the offense, as quarterback Andy Dalton tends to get tunnel vision when the times get tough. The Ravens have been susceptible to big plays, and could be again Sunday.

3. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton

By proxy, a big day for Green means a big day for Dalton. He hasn't had the most success against the Ravens in his career, but he's started to figure them out recently and like Green, can make one or two big plays that make his overall performance look good.

For instance, between the big Green catch in the opener, and two deep passes that went for a combined 101 yards to Mohamed Sanu, nearly a third of Dalton's 567 total yards against the Ravens last year came on three plays. Combine that with his running ability in the red zone and he presents plenty of problems.

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