The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 5 as they prepare to take on the Baltimore Ravens. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 5.
1. Who Will Contain Lamar Jackson?
The Bengals have had a lot of issues on defense this year. They have struggled to tackle and have given up a lot of yards. This week will present a new challenge, as they will have to find a way to contain Lamar Jackson. While they played him last season, there have been new additions to the defense.
With the lack of good tackling, Jackson could have a big day. If Jessie Bates leads the team in tackles again, it will not be a good day for the Bengals’ defense, as Jackson will have made it to the third level already. When he scrambles, whether on a designed run or not, the linebackers need to chase him down. Josh Bynes, Germaine Pratt, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Logan Wilson will need to be the ones stepping up to keep him in front of them. If they don’t Jackson may rattle off a long touchdown run like he did against Washington in week 4.
2. Can the Defense Limit the Big Play?
While containing Jackson is the biggest concern, the defense will also have to limit the big play. Jackson has been able to find Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews for some deep plays in recent weeks. If they can make the Ravens drive the ball downfield without big plays, it will show a lot of progress from last season.
This will require the secondary to keep things in front of them. The Bengals don’t have a true speedster to keep up with Brown in the secondary, but with safety help over the top they can limit the big play. A lot will fall on Bates’ shoulders to keep things in front and to make plays on deep balls.
3. How Will the Run Defense do?
The run defense had their best week of the season against the Jaguars, allowing just 89 yards on the ground. The pass defense did allow a lot of yards, but it was still a good outing against the run. Doing that against the Jaguars is a little easier than doing it against the Ravens.
As already mentioned, Lamar Jackson is a threat for big plays, so he will be the main focus. Mark Ingram wears down defenses in the first half and still has a lot left in the tank. J.K. Dobbins is a rookie who has played well so far. Gus Edwards is brought in late in games and picks up a lot of yards after the defense is worn down. That is a lot for one defense to worry about, especially since the Ravens have a good offensive line.
4. Can the Offensive Line Keep it up?
Against the Jaguars, the offensive line also had their best performance of the season. They only allowed one sack and Joe Burrow was able to show what he can do when he has a little bit of protection. Joe Mixon also had a great day on the ground, which he will look to carry over to this week.
The Ravens have nine sacks on the season and will be looking to feast on the Bengals’ offensive line. They also have run stuffers like Calais Campbell on the defensive line. Their linebacker Patrick Queen leads all rookies in tackles this season. There are a lot of reasons to believe the offensive line will struggle against the Ravens, which means it will be back to the drawing board for the Bengals.
5. Who Will Marlon Humphrey Guard?
Marlon Humphrey has been one of the best corners in the game over the last few seasons. He can deny the ball well and was an All-Pro last year. Having him at corner makes the rest of the defense better, as they usually can rely on him to shut down his receiver.
With how the receivers have played this year for the Bengals, it would be wise to have Humphrey guard Tyler Boyd, who has played well. A.J. Green has historically had big games against the Ravens, but he hasn’t proven to be good this season. If Humphrey is on Boyd, Green will need to have a breakout game, which could re-establish his value before he hits the free-agent market this offseason.
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