Here are two items on the Ravens’ to-do list for next season.
Win the AFC North. Figure out how to beat the Bengals.
The Ravens have lost three straight to the Bengals, dating back to the 2013 season finale. That loss cost the Ravens a playoff berth in 2013. And their two losses to Cincinnati in 2014 kept the Ravens from winning the AFC North.
Despite their struggles to win a playoff game, the Bengals have had their way lately with the Ravens. Here are three reasons why:
1. Joe Flacco has struggled against the Bengals.
Flacco had two of his poorest games last season against Cincinnati. In the season-opener at M & T Bank Stadium, Flacco threw a season-high 62 passes, but completed just 35 with one touchdown, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 71.0. In Week 8 at Cincinnati, Flacco was even worse - 17 for 34, 195 yards, two interceptions, and a quarterback rating of 43.1.
2. Bengals receivers have made big plays against Baltimore’s secondary.
Usually, it has been A. J. Green, who made a 77-yard game-winning touchdown catch against Baltimore in Week 1. But in Week 8, Mohamed Sanu (five catches, 125 yards) also torched the Ravens.
3. The Ravens’ pass rush has been inept against the Bengals
In their last three games against the Bengals, the Ravens have only sacked Dalton once. Dalton can be pressured into mistakes. But given time, Dalton can give you headaches.
Next season, the Ravens play their home opener against the Bengals in Week 3, and close the regular season at Cincinnati in Week 17. How the Ravens fare in those two games will be critical in the AFC North race. The Steelers remain the Ravens’ biggest rival. But lately, the Bengals have been a bigger problem.