Five final thoughts on Bengals (2-0) at Ravens (0-2), today at 1 p.m.:
1. This is the biggest September game of John Harbaugh’s tenure.
What’s the difference between being 1-2 and 0-3? Since 1990, only 2.4% of teams starting 0-3 have made the playoffs, while 24.8% of teams starting 1-2 have made it.
The Ravens have never been 0-3 in Harbaugh’s seven previous seasons. Losing this game would put the Ravens in desperation mode, with a Thursday night game at Pittsburgh just days away.
2. In a big game, the Ravens need their stars to play like stars.
That means linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who does not have a sack. That means quarterback Joe Flacco, who has more interceptions (three) than touchdown passes (two). That means inside linebacker C. J. Mosley, who is being counted on for more leadership with Terrell Suggs (Achilles injury) done for the season. That means right guard Marshal Yanda, who leads an offensive line that has not played up to expectations yet. If those four have stellar games, the Ravens will be difficult to beat.
3. The Ravens should activate pass-rusher Jason Babin for this game.
They have nothing to lose. Babin only had three practices before the Raiders’ game. But after another week of practice, the Ravens should turn Babin loose for 15 or 20 snaps and see if he can energize their pass rush.
4. It’s a bad omen for the Ravens if Flacco reaches 40 pass attempts.
The Ravens have lost six straight when Flacco throws it 40 times or more. They’ll need a running game to move the ball consistently against this Bengals defense. The Ravens have never won a game (0-13 all-time) when rushing 1 times or less.
5. Flacco must avoid throwing picks against a Bengals’ defense that has befuddled him.
Flacco has thrown more interceptions against the Bengals (18) than any other team. And it’s not even close. The Browns have intercepted Flacco the second-most often - just seven times. Flacco must stay away from the big mistakes that his defense can't overcome.
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