Ravens run offense vs. Bengals run defense -- RAVENS
Past and recent history heavily favors the Ravens. The league's leading rusher, Jamal Lewis, has gained 100 yards in each of his four meetings with the Bengals, averaging 120 yards a game. Over the past four games, Lewis has accounted for 53.7 percent of the team's total offense (673 of 1,253 yards). Cincinnati ranks 22nd in run defense but has held its past two opponents (Cleveland and Buffalo) to 80 yards or fewer rushing as a team. Ravens right guard Bennie Anderson has a challenge in the Bengals' solid run-stopper, John Thornton.
Ravens pass offense vs. Bengals pass defense -- BENGALS
Opportunities have been rare and the drops have been frequent for the Ravens, who have the lowest-ranked passing attack in the league. Rookie quarterback Kyle Boller has averaged 20 throws over the past four games as the Ravens have relied heavily on Lewis. With receivers Travis Taylor and Frank Sanders in a funk, the Ravens likely will try to get Pro Bowl tight end Todd Heap more involved. The Bengals have been more aggressive in the secondary, breaking up 25 passes and intercepting five throws. Cincinnati has limited opposing quarterbacks to a combined 68.8 passer rating, 11th best in the NFL.
Bengals run offense vs. Ravens run defense -- EVEN
Without linebacker Ray Lewis last season, the Ravens allowed Bengals running back Corey Dillon to gain 172 yards rushing in two meetings. In the previous four meetings with Lewis in the middle, the Ravens held him under 57 yards rushing three times. But the Ravens' run defense has looked quite pedestrian in allowing the past three opponents to average at least 4.4 yards a carry. Always a fixture atop the run defense rankings, the Ravens have been nicked by the likes of Arizona's Marcel Shipp and have fallen to 12th. Dillon has been limited to 44 carries in four games because of a groin injury.
Bengals pass offense vs. Ravens pass defense -- BENGALS
With receivers Chad Johnson and Peter Warrick, the Bengals have a dangerous passing attack. Cincinnati quarterback Jon Kitna threw for 580 yards in two games against the Ravens last season. Kitna, though, has a history of throwing costly interceptions, and two of his picks have been returned for touchdowns this season. Ravens safety Ed Reed, who is tied for the AFC lead with four interceptions this season, picked off Kitna twice last year. But the Ravens could have a tough time handling Johnson, who boasts a 15.9-yard average per catch and will match up against veteran cornerback Corey Fuller.
Special teams -- RAVENS
In sweeping Cincinnati last season, the Ravens scored on a 95-yard punt return by Lamont Brightful and a 22-yard blocked punt return by Ron Johnson. The Ravens have established themselves as one of the best special teams units by making the same big plays this season, but they need a boost from their punt and kickoff return teams, which rank in the bottom five of the league. Wade Richey will return as the Ravens' kickoff specialist after sitting out last Sunday with a leg injury. The Bengals should be helped by the addition of former Ravens punter Kyle Richardson, who will be making his debut.
Intangibles -- EVEN
This has the makings of a setup game, with the Ravens following a West Coast trip with another road game, while the Bengals are coming off their bye. Plus, it will be tempting for the Ravens to look past this week and forward to next week's game against the Denver Broncos. The Bengals have been on the verge of some big wins, losing three games by seven points or fewer. In his first four seasons as Ravens coach, Brian Billick is 7-1 against the Bengals. Over the past 13 seasons, Cincinnati is 8-39 in October.
Prediction -- BENGALS
Marvin Lewis will beat his former team with offense, not defense. Look for the Bengals to break out to a sizable lead with their big-play receivers and take the Ravens' premier weapon -- Jamal Lewis -- out of the game. As the league's fourth-youngest team, the Ravens are due for a letdown. Bengals, 20-14.
Ravens 3-2 Bengals 1-4
Ravens by 2
Ravens 3-2 Bengals 3-2
Ravens lead 10-4
Ravens won, 27-23, on Dec. 1, 2002, in Cincinnati.
Ravens offense: Overall (22), rush (1), pass (32).
Ravens defense: Overall (9), rush (12), pass (14).
Bengals offense: Overall (23), rush (28), pass (14).
Bengals defense: Overall (10), rush (22), pass (6).
Ravens have won nine of the past 10 meetings.
Ravens RB Jamal Lewis has rushed for 1,825 yards in 18 career division games (101.4 per game).
Lewis' rushing total this year (742) is nearly double the Bengals' team total (384).
Ravens LB Terrell Suggs leads NFL rookies in sacks with four.
Bengals QB Jon Kitna has a 64.3 completion percentage in his past four games, with 900 passing yards and five TDs.
Bengals are 5-25 in their past 30 games.