Bengals making Ravens' Week 1 loss look better by the week

September 22, 2014|By Jon Meoli | The Baltimore Sun

There wasn't much unpacking of the Ravens Week 1 loss to Cincinnati, given the Ray Rice story's explosion the following day. But the farther the team gets from that season-opening loss to the now 3-0 Bengals, the better it looks.

I don't want to spoil my Week 3 Power Rankings, but Cincinnati might be the best team in the NFL. If I had a contract, it would obligate me to preface any mention of quarterback Andy Dalton by saying he hasn't won a playoff game. Now that I've said that, I'll add that he's still being Andy Dalton, with 240 yards passing per game and two touchdowns. He hasn't been sacked all year, and he got into the act with a receiving touchdown Sunday. (It was a play that five years ago would have probably ended his season if the defensive back was allowed to hit him.)

Running backs Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill have a combined 317 yards rushing, five touchdowns and an average of nearly four yards per carry. Third-year receiver Mohamed Sanu is becoming a worthy sidekick for A.J. Green.

And their defense, which has seven sacks in three games, has allowed 16, 10, and seven points in three games. Opposing quarterbacks have an average passer rating under 60 against them, and while Sunday's opponent, Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker, isn't a world-beater, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan looked great in the two games that he didn't face the Bengals.

All that means they could be the class of what's shaping up to be a strong division. Through three weeks, the four AFC North teams have only lost to each other. The Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Ravens. The Cleveland Browns lost to the Ravens and Steelers, and the Ravens lost to Cincinnati. It's safe to say the rest will also lose to the Bengals, and that the Ravens won't be alone in it for much longer.

jmeoli@baltsun.com

www.twitter.com/jonmeoli

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