The Ravens (7-3) will face the Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at 8:15 p.m. Thursday in Baltimore. Here are predictions from The Baltimore Banner’s sports staff.
Kyle Goon, columnist
Do you know the last time the Ravens lost back-to-back games with a healthy Lamar Jackson? 2020. As much as fourth-quarter struggles have been A Thing for the Ravens the last few years, so have bounce-back victories. The Ravens seem eager to prove they’re better than their loss to the Browns, and while a Thursday game is never exactly welcome, they are ready to wash the taste out of their mouths.
The Bengals’ offense should be better based on how Joe Burrow is playing lately, but their defense might be worse — racked with injuries and looking like a sieve against the Texans last week. Expect the Ravens’ offense to get back to business this week. Burrow might hurt the secondary, but at least Baltimore doesn’t have Tee Higgins to worry about.
Ravens 31, Bengals 28
Jonas Shaffer, reporter
Divisional games are always weird. Thursday night games are even weirder. Smash ’em together, and you end up with a grab bag of totally wild outcomes that seem feasible. Joe Burrow putting up 400 yards on a Ravens defense that’s missing Marlon Humphrey? Sure. Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. turning Prime Video into a route-running demo? Why not?
In games like this, though, it’s smart to ride with the unit you trust the most. Considering the state of the Bengals’ defensive front, which a bad Texans rushing attack gashed Sunday, the Ravens’ ground game should roll. If Gus Edwards, Keaton Mitchell and Justice Hill are locked in, Lamar Jackson should have plenty of opportunities for big plays off play action.
Ravens 28, Bengals 21
Giana Han, reporter
After last week, I’m suddenly doubting everything I thought I knew about the Ravens. Whereas I would have picked them with more confidence, I now pick them in what I feel like is a toss-up. This doesn’t feel like a team that loses twice in a row, especially to opponents it outmatches. But, again, do I even know you anymore, Baltimore?
Both teams have injuries, and I feel like they cancel each other out — an offensive lineman for a defensive lineman, a cornerback for a wide receiver. When you look at the matchup, I still think the Ravens’ secondary can do enough, even without Marlon Humphrey, to limit these receivers to less than what the Ravens’ offense can do. With the Bengals’ propensity for giving up explosive plays, it seems like the perfect time to unleash rookies Zay Flowers and Keaton Mitchell. Maybe, just maybe, this team will get its identity back.
Ravens 24, Bengals 21
Chris Korman, editor
John Harbaugh loves to pretend he’s immune to all the narratives. He’s coaching based on what he thinks is right. The game unfolds as it unfolds. You take what’s there. That’s just the truth.
All of that might have some merit, but when a team takes as much guff as the Ravens have this week about one area of the game — in this case, deep passes down the field — it tends to focus on it. And Harbaugh has the sort of competitive fire that will goad him into trying to prove the narrative of the week wrong.
So: Zay Flowers down the sideline for a 67-yard TD on the opening drive.
Then the fourth quarter rolls around, everybody in the city clenches up and ... the Ravens pull it out without too much trouble. They’re a good team. The Bengals are, too, now ... but still figuring a few things out.
Ravens 28, Bengals 23
Brandon Weigel, editor
The less said about the end of the Browns game the better. Though if you want to learn more about why it has all gone wrong for Baltimore in the fourth quarter, Jonas Shaffer’s film study is worth your time.
Both teams are coming into this “Thursday Night Football” game missing key starters. Baltimore cornerback Marlon Humphrey is doubtful, but Cincinnati receiver Tee Higgins is out. The Ravens could miss the left side of their offensive line, but the Bengals’ defensive front will be without end Sam Hubbard.
I’ll hang my hat on this: All three of the Ravens’ losses have been late-game flops, and the previous two times the team has bounced back with a win. After making a bunch of mistakes against the Colts, they demolished the vaunted Browns defense in Cleveland. A case of the drops against Pittsburgh allowed an easy win to slip from their fingers, but they didn’t let some sloppy play against the Titans affect the result.
There’s too much at stake for them to have two clunkers in a row. Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 7-0 at home on Thursday night, and I think he’ll have them ready to get to 8-0.
Ravens 22, Bengals 17