Well, I'm getting pretty tired of analyzing what went wrong with my picks, so this installment of Upon Further Review will be briefer than usual. In essence, the Bengals thoroughly beat the Ravens for the second time this year. Although I predicted that the Ravens defense would be full of swagger and would dominate by relying on a similar game plan to that which they used to stifle the Broncos, they did no such thing. They played undisciplined, soft defense most of the game, and demonstrated that their secondary is a legitimate weakness. The Bengals also dominated in the trenches, both blowing the Baltimore front off the line of scrimmage--a place where Ngata was sorely missed--and subjecting Flacco to constant pressure on the other side of the ball. The Ravens also couldn't get out of their own way, missing a key late field goal and allowing 3 consecutive sacks to snuff out their last comeback attempt. And the Bengals thoroughly owned the time of possession stat, possessing the ball for 40 minutes. Not only did Benson generate another 100+ yard day on the ground, but when the Ravens stacked the box, Carson was a perfect 8/8 for 100 yards. In other words, Cincinnati looked largely really good, while Baltimore was pretty unimpressive. This prediction was just sorely off base.
1. Cincinnati has a really good secondary. As Bucky Brooks pointed out, and as my own view of the game confirmed, the Bengals' DBs were simply spectacular, completely shutting down Baltimore's passing game. Moreover, the Ravens were only able to convert on a pitiful 10% of their 3rd downs (1/10). I've never been that high on Joe Flacco, despite his impressive stats to open the year, but the Bengals totally shut him down. And much of the credit goes to Bengals' defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who as they pointed out on Playbook this week, came out with a fantastic game plan that appeared to take the Ravens out of their comfort zone. In other words, despite the Bengals' historical struggles coming out of the bye, they appeared to put it to good use this week and come up with a great defensive performance. As Simmons pointed out on his podcast this week, the Bengals are still not getting a lot of respect in the betting marketplace, and it makes me like them against pass-heavy teams, given the fantastic pass defense they displayed. The Bengals are no joke this year.
2. Do not overreact to one game. Looking back at the prediction, too much of it was premised on the Ravens' dismantling of the Broncos last week. It seems like most analysts were a little too quick to jump back on the Ravens' bandwagon after one good game; their defensive swagger and dominance sure didn't look like it was actually back this week. It is pretty difficult to explain the awful letdown against the Bengals after such a dominant performance against the undefeated Broncos, but the lesson here is not to overreact to one good game at this point in the season.