Here’s what experts say about the game:
Can defensive coordinator Mike McDonald continue to neutralize Joe Burrow?
**Tony Lombardi of the Russell Street Report:** “It seems like just yesterday that Burrow was shedding tears beyond the outstretched arms of Ravens DBs and into the waiting arms of Ja’Mar Chase and Tee Higgins, at will. In 2021, Burrow throttled the Ravens for 941 yards and seven touchdowns in two games. Two. Games. His passer rating against the Ravens this season was a whopping 131.1 while averaging 11.18 yards per attempt. That kind of performance is hard to erase from the minds of the Ravens Flock. And then came Burrough’s kryptonite, at least relatively speaking. His name? Mike McDonald. McDonald was hired as the Ravens’ defensive coordinator in 2022, and since he took the job, the Bengals, especially Burrow, haven’t been as prolific.In the four games the Ravens and Bengals have played since McDonald’s arrival, Burrow’s passer rating has dropped by 33.9% to a more manageable 85.9. During those four games, Burrough has averaged 216 yards passing per game total of five field goal kicks and two interceptions. McDonald stifled Burrow’s production with a variety of coverage looks, stunts on the defensive front and a determined effort to mitigate big plays. Burrow’s most explosive play against the Ravens since McDonald took over as DC was 33 yards.”
The Ravens defense gives them an advantage in what figures to be a close game.
**CJ Doon of The Baltimore Sun:** “A staggering six NFL games ended with a field goal as time expired last weekend, and it looks like we could see another one Thursday night. History certainly favors the Ravens, with Lamar Jackson boasting a 7 career -2 record against the Bengals, including 4-1 at home. With Tee Higgins out and Ja’Mar Chase playing with a back injury, Joe Burrow will have a tough time against the NFL’s best defense.”
The Bengals won’t be able to overcome injuries to key players on both sides of the ball.
Athletic’s Vic Tafur: “There’s no question the Bengals looked past the Texans last week. They scored 20 points in the second half, but it was too little, too late. And they’ll really miss WR Tee Higgins and DE Sam Hubbard this week — especially Hubbard, as the Ravens will be able to run the ball and I’m not sure the Bengals’ Joe Mixon will be able to do the same. The pick: Ravens.”
Jackson could have a big game with the ball against a vulnerable Bengals defense.
The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec: “Lamar Jackson has won seven of his eight career starts against the Bengals. He performed modestly through the air, completing 61.8 percent of his passes, throwing 12 touchdowns compared to four interceptions and posting a 93.9 quarterback rating. It’s his legs, though, that really hurt the Bengals. He’s averaging 79.5 rushing yards in his eight starts against Cincinnati, and that’s despite a game in which he rushed just twice for 3 yards. Jackson had more than 50 rushing yards in every other start against the Bengals The Ravens quarterback has had fewer than 10 rushing attempts in five of his last seven games and has had more than 50 rushing yards just twice since Week 3. The defense Lou Anarumo has struggled to stop the run this year and has traditionally struggled to stop Jackson.”
The Ravens can make big plays down the stretch against the Bengals.
**NFL.com’s Eric Edholm:** “The Bengals were a loss-dependent defense under Anarumo, but this season they’re allowing explosive plays at a rate we haven’t seen in years. Cincinnati is 30th in the NFL in yards per pass attempt at 7.38, and the Ravens averaged 7.19 against them in Week 2. Zay Flowers hauled in the Ravens’ only pass longer than 20 yards in that game, but he went 52. He’s a game-changer and a big threat for the Ravens, but they have plenty. Twelve different Ravens have a reception of over 20 yards this season. Odell Beckham Jr. had a 40-yard TD on Sunday. Mark Andrews picked up 36 yards and was a big factor in beating the Bengals in Week 2. But Baltimore also hasn’t gotten many fireworks from receivers Nelson Aholor or Rashod Bateman lately. The Bengals have playmakers in the secondary, including Cam Taylor-Britt, who had a big INT in the fourth quarter last week and has 4 on the season. But the Bengals’ secondary was picked off by Texas rookie QB C.J. Stroud last Sunday, and they also allowed some big passes against the Nines. If Hubbard’s backups can’t handle the pass rush, the Bengals secondary could be in for a long night.”
The Bengals can’t afford to lose and they won’t.
Jon Breach of **CBS Sports:** “If the Bengals lose on Thursday, it will essentially kill any chance they have of winning the AFC North, which is why I think we’ll see them in desperation mode. I’m mildly concerned that the Bengals have lost 13 STRAIGHT games in primetime, but no one has been better than Burrow at ending those ugly franchise losing streaks, and I’ll say he ends another one on Thursday. … I’m going to go ahead and say the Ravens blow a lead in the fourth quarter and the Bengals win by a field goal.”
**Jordan Mendoza of USA Today:** “Both teams are coming off games they should have won and need to rebound to avoid a two-game sweep. Baltimore has proven it can’t be trusted to finish games, and Cincinnati will face Baltimore this time around with a healthy Joe Burrow. The Bengals return the favor with a road win to cut into Baltimore’s division lead.”
Athletic’s Marc Caboli: “I look at it this way: This game means a lot more to the Bengals than it does to the Ravens. It just feels ripe for a Burrow signature game for Cincinnati. Burrow was not good and we all know why. The Bengals are on the road and coming off a tough loss. But they need this one if they have any chance of making the playoffs. And oh yeah, the Ravens collapse worries me. Give me the Bengals, 30-21.”
**Sheil Kapadia of The Ringer:** “Joe Burrow threw a pair of interceptions last week against Houston, but he also made some high-profile throws. If Tyler Boyd doesn’t drop a late third down pass in the end zone, we might have spent this week talking about Burrow as the MVP favorite. I think the Ravens are the better team, but when Burrow is healthy and in the underdog role, I almost always go with Cincinnati.”
The Ravens were lucky to be dressed in all black.
Jonas Shaffer of The Baltimore Banner: “The Ravens will be wearing their all-black uniforms for the first time this season. That could be bad news for a Bengals team that has lost 14 straight regular-season and prime-time playoff games. According to the X (formerly Twitter ) account @RavensUniforms, which tracks the team’s performance in various uniform combinations, the Ravens are 18-6 (.750) in their all-black look. That’s the team’s third-best winning percentage among its 11 combinations.”