Photo Courtesy: USA Today

Take the Line for Baltimore

September 13, 2018 - 10:23 am

By Austin Medina  

After an impressive beat down last Sunday against the Bills, the Ravens are gearing up for a division match against the Bengals. The game takes place Thursday night in Cincinnati and it’s no secret, the Ravens are out for revenge.

Being a division rival, the Bengals always have to be respected when matched up against. The Ravens are just 2-7 in their last nine showings against Cincy.

The Ravens have the defense to stop the run game. Although Joe Mixon ran for 95 yards and a touchdown last week, it should be noted that was against a makeshift Indianapolis defense.

The key in this game will be on the line, both offensively and defensively. If getting to Andy Dalton was easy for the Colts (2 sacks), how will the Ravens fair? The Bengals offensive line got stronger this season with the addition of Cordy Glenn and rookie Billy Price. However, the Ravens can take advantage of right side of the line.

The Ravens need to apply loads of pressure on Dalton, so those checkdown passes become three-and-outs. The less time Dalton has to throw to AJ Green, the better! With an inexperienced offensive line, the Ravens should be able to expose a weakness.

On the other side, the Ravens offensive line will have a big challenge. With players such as Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson, the guys up front will need to play big in order to win. In particular, the play of James Hurst needs to be a concern. The right tackle seemed confused at times during the Bills game, even if it didn’t impact the pocket. This game will be telling if Hurst is a starter for the long haul, or just a bridge for Orlando Brown Jr.

Last week, the offensive firepower proved real. The wide receiver core looked sharp, catching three touchdowns. The running game by committee played an effective game. None of this is possible without protection on the offensive line. With a clean pocket, Joe Flacco should have no problem hitting his targets Thursday. In his past, Flacco has struggled against the tough defense of Cincinnati, which is why the play up front is so imperative.

This game has all the makings of a sloppy start. Two division rivals on just three days rest. It’s what happens after that will determine the game. As long as the Ravens dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides, they should come out with the victory.

Which is why we are also taking the line in Vegas. Baltimore is -1 underdogs heading into Thursday. It’s safe to take the Ravens on that line as well.

Let’s pick the Ravens line: offensively, defensively, and in Vegas!

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Follow Austin on Twitter: @AustinMedz53