The fate of the AFC North hangs in the balance as the Baltimore Ravens travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a high-stakes showdown. The winner of Sunday’s game will take first place in the division with just two games left.
According to the latest NFL odds, the Bengals (-2.5) enter as slight favorites. Last week, Cincinnati pulled out a narrow win against the Denver Broncos but struggled to find consistency on offense. The Bengals scored 15 points and gained only 12 first downs.
Can the Bengals offense get back on track against Baltimore? Here are some key stats for Week 16.
A Fast Start
Recently, the Bengals have struggled offensively at the start of games.
Cincinnati is averaging just 8.33 points over their last three games in the first half. This has led to large deficits, trailing by as much as 24 and 14 in losses against the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers.
Despite some recent struggles, Cincinnati has the 9th-ranked scoring offense in the NFL, averaging over 26 points per game. When the offense is clicking for all four quarters, the Bengals can put up big numbers. This includes a 41-point performance against the Ravens in Week 7.
With so much at stake this week, the Bengals need to get off to a fast start. Long drives and early points will help the offense establish some rhythm. If the Bengals get on the board early, they could achieve a big offensive day.
The Passing Game
Establishing the pass will be crucial for Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati offense. Baltimore has the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, conceding just 86.1 rushing yards per game and 3.9 per rush. If he can play, running back Joe Mixon will have his work cut out for him finding running lanes amid a stout Ravens front seven.
Baltimore’s pass defense is another story. The Ravens allow roughly 265 passing yards per game (ranked 31st). Cincinnati has the 11th-ranked passing attack, averaging around 241 pass yards per game.
The Ravens have endured a slew of injuries to their secondary, losing key starters such as Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, and DeShon Elliott. It will be tough for a relatively inexperienced unit to keep up with all the Bengals receiving options.
Look for Burrow and the offense to try and target mismatches in the secondary. I believe that Burrow will likely target critical weapons like Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins for big chunk plays.
2021 Cincinnati Bengals Scoring Trends
- The Bengals are 5-1 straight up when they score first
- The Bengals are averaging 20 points over their last three games
- The Bengals are averaging 28.7 points over their past three home games
- The Bengals are averaging 30.5 points per game vs. AFC North opponents
- The Bengals have scored over 30 points five times
AFC North Showdown
The Ravens vs. Bengals showdown will go a long way in determining who wins the AFC North this season. The winner of this game will have the inside track, while the loser will be left scrambling to make the playoffs.
Despite some recent struggles, the Cincinnati Bengals are well-positioned to get back on track against a banged-up Baltimore secondary. Look for Joe Burrow to try and exploit some key mismatches.
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