The Baltimore Ravens are 3-2. The record of the three teams that they have beaten is a combined 2-12-1, with both of those victories—by the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals—coming against the Cincinnati Bengals. And they are the Ravens’ next opponent.
The winless Bengals bring with them to Baltimore the worst run defense in the NFL, while the Ravens rank second in rushing yards, recording 961 yards on 180 attempts through five games, averaging 5.3 yards per carry with seven touchdowns.
The Bengals, meanwhile, have allowed 838 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns through the first five games, allowing five yards per carry. So you pit one of the best rushing offenses against one of the worst rushing defenses, and it’s probably pretty easy to predict what’s going to happen today. Baltimore should skate to a 4-2 record.
The Ravens have been fortunate to have one of the softest schedules in the NFL so far, the only one of their first six opponents to boast a winning record behind the Kansas City Chiefs. The other team that they lost to is the Cleveland Browns, who are 2-3 and have been blown out by 25 or more points twice so far this season.
That’s not going to do the Steelers any favors for the time being, but they could get some help right afterwards. Baltimore’s next two opponents are the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots, who combined have only one loss on the season so far between them. They have the Los Angeles Rams and the San Francisco 49ers on deck not too long after.
Pittsburgh is going to need the Ravens to lose at least two of those games, and likely more, in order to claw their way back into relevance. They have already played three of those teams so far this season themselves, and have lost all of them, the only one still awaiting them being the Rams.
Of course, it would be nice for the Bengals to surprise everybody and actually beat the Ravens. They have been competitive in some games, even holding a late lead against the Seahawks early in the season. But their run game being what it is, and missing three defensive linemen for this contest, it seems inevitable that the Ravens will run down their throat.
Cincinnati has played some teams who are good at running the ball against just about anybody, but until they show that they can actually stop somebody—the Cardinals just put up over 200 yards on the ground against them—opponents are going to continue to do just that. And one of the best in the league is next on deck.