The Baltimore Ravens are set to host the Cincinnati Bengals in what promises to be an epic AFC North matchup on Thursday Night Football to open the NFL Week 11 schedule.
Both Baltimore and Cincinnati are coming off surprise losses and must take to the field on a short week. The Ravens fell to the Cleveland Browns by the score of 33-31 this past Sunday. Meanwhile, the Bengals saw their four-game winning streak snapped by the upstart Houston Texans.
Existing in a division that’s the best in football right now, this mid-November matchup takes on even new meaning. Baltimore is in first place with a 7-3 mark. The Bengals find themselves at 5-4 and in last place.
A win for the home team could have wide-ranging ramifications as it relates Cincinnati’s playoff hopes. But if the Bengals can pull off that upset road win, the dynamics also change big time. Here are four bold predictions for what promises to be a bitterly contested Thursday Night Football game.
Related: NFL Week 11 expert picks
Cincinnati Bengals’ Ja’Marr Chase goes off for 200 yards
With Tee Higgins out of action Thursday night, the Bengals are going to have to rely on Ja’Marr Chase to continue producing at a high level. For the most part, he’s done that recently. That included a 124-yard performance in last week’s loss to the Houston Texans.
Thus far this season, Chase has seen double-digit targets four times. He’s averaging 128 yards per in those games. Chase has also hit the 200-yard plateau twice in his career. It’s not typical for a wide receiver to put up numbers like that.
On the other side, top Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey is doubtful to go in this one due to a calf injury. This will have a huge impact on a Baltimore defense that has yielded a mere 58% completion to wide receivers in the season. One of the best corners in the NFL, Humphrey has given up a 39% completion himself. Take him out of the equation, and Chase should eat.
Jadeveon Clowney records multi-sack game for the Baltimore Ravens
It seems as if Clowney has hit his stride with Baltimore. The three-time Pro Bowler put up two sacks last week against the Cleveland Browns. It was his second two-sack outing on the season. Clowney is also seeing a nice percentage of Baltimore’s snaps on defense (50-plus in nine of 10 games).
While Joe Burrow has been kept upright for the most part this season (22 sacks in nine games), that’s primarily due to Cincinnati going with more of a quick strike attack to avoid hits given his early-season injury. We’re not seeing as much of that as the Bengals open up their offensive attack in recent weeks. That’ll lead to ample opportunities for Clowney to record his second two-sack performance over the past five days.
Related: NFL Week 11 QB rankings
Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow both net over 300 total yards
Surprisingly, Lamar Jackson has only put up 300-plus total yards in two games this season. Given his dual-threat ability, we’d expect this to be a higher number. On the other hand, Joe Burrow is coming off consecutive 300-yard games in which he tallied a total of 695 yards through the air.
With Baltimore holding running backs to under 87 rushing yards per game, the onus is going to be on Burrow to beat this defense through the air. He’ll have the opportunity to hit that mark again. As for the Bengals’ defense, they rank 25th in the NFL against the pass at nearly 250 yards per game. Look for both quarterbacks to hit that mark come Thursday night.
Cincinnati Bengals get back on track
Cincinnati’s upset 30-27 home loss last week snapped a four-game winning streak that saw the team come out on top against contenders such as the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and Buffalo Bills. Perhaps, the Bengals overlooked a surprisingly good Houston Texans squad. Either way, going up against a bitter division rival on the road won’t create that same issue.
In situations like this, desperation comes out to play big time. A loss Thursday night would move Cincinnati to 5-5 on the season pushing it to 2.5 games behind Baltimore and creating major issues when it comes to the AFC Wild Card Race. It still has games coming up against the Steelers (twice), Jaguars, Vikings, Chiefs and Browns. In short, Zac Taylor’s squad can’t afford to lose this game.
- Final prediction: Cincinnati Bengals 28, Baltimore Ravens 24