At 5-2, the Ravens find themselves atop the AFC North and tied for the second-best record in the entire conference. Their success has come largely on the back of quarterback Joe Flacco, who over the past four weeks is playing his best football since the team's Super Bowl run two seasons ago. This week, Baltimore looks to avenge their season-opening loss in Cincinnati and extend their lead in the division.
The Bengals began the season as strong as any team in the league, winning three straight by a combined score of 70-33. In the time since, the team dropped a primetime game to the New England Patriots and lost wide receiver A.J. Green to a toe injury. Whether Green can play this week is one of the most significant narratives of the matchup.
Minus Ray Rice, the Ravens' ground game has actually performed better than it did a year ago. Top back Justin Forsett leads the team with 503 yards and three touchdowns, averaging nearly 6 yards per attempt. He's capably backed by Lorenzo Taliaferro, who has amassed 199 yards at a clip of 4.5 YPA. The biggest surprise on offense thus far has been the play of 35-year-old receiver Steve Smith. The former Carolina Panther has caught 38 passes for 640 yards, four touchdowns and a staggering 10 plays of 20 yards or more.
The Bengals' declining play has been in part due to the similarly declining performance of quarterback Andy Dalton. His yards per attempt have dropped each of the last two weeks. He has yet to throw three or more touchdowns in a game this season. Meanwhile, tailback Giovani Bernard has been wildly inconsistent of late. His 137-yard, one-touchdown game against the Panthers in Week 6 was bookended by two scoreless games that combined saw him average fewer than four yards per carry.
How to watch
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
When: 1 p.m. ET
Announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn
Online streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
The Bengals are 2.5-point favorites according to OddsShark.