Week 1: Baltimore Ravens Vs. Cincinnati Bengals

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals
Winner Joe Flacco rarely gets categorized with the top quarterbacks in the game, but what he lacks in notoriety he makes up for in guts. Flacco has a plus arm, is usually at his best in big games and his teammates believe in him.
Little was expected from the Bengals in 2011, particularly with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton taking over for Carson Palmer. However, Dalton started all 16 games, threw for more than 3,000 yards and developed into one of the league’s most surprising up-and-coming players.
Winner Few NFL teams can get the explosive plays out of their running game that the Ravens get with speedy Ray Rice. Anquan Boldin is not a fancy or polished wide receiver. However, he is a tough guy who will make plays even if he does not run the most polished route. Torrey Smith is one of Flacco’s favorite receivers because he will not drop the ball.
The most exciting player on the offensive side of the ball is wide receiver A.J. Green, who caught 65 passes as a rookie for 1,057 yards. He has speed and can go up and get the ball. Look for hard-working BenJarvus Green-Ellis to take advantage of a solid offensive line and give the Bengals a credible ground game.
Winner The Ravens will not have outside linebacker Terrell Suggs to rush the passer for quite a while, but they still have Ray Lewis to run the show from the left inside linebacker spot. Yes, he has slowed down but he’s still a leader. Free safety Ed Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard are a joy to behold.
Mike Zimmer has done an excellent job turning the Bengal defense into a fast-moving and hard-hitting bunch. The Bengals ranked fourth in yards allowed per play last season. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins destroys the interior run.
Special Teams
Billy Cundiff paid the price for missing the game-tying field goal in the AFC Championship game when he was cut in training camp. (Later signed by Washington.) Rookie Justin Tucker of Texas takes over and he has a big leg for kickoffs.
Winner The Bengals like Mike Nugent at placekicker. He returned from ACL surgery to make 33-of-38 field goals last season. Kevin Huber is an above average punter who has good directional skills.

The Winner Is

AFC Championship - Baltimore Ravens v New England Patriots
Winner Ravens
3 out of 4

The Bengals usually struggle when expectations are anything but a losing season. Andy Dalton must pick up from where he left off and Marvin Lewis must shepherd the team along. The Ravens are perennial contenders and last year’s painful AFC Championship game loss to New England may spur them this season. Baltimore controls the season opener.


  1. MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 9: Quarterback Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans drops back to pass during the first quarter of the game on October 9, 2016 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 13:  Trevor Siemian #13 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium on October 13, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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  2. SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks passes against the Atlanta Falcons at CenturyLink Field on October 16, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 17:  Quarterback Carson Palmer #3 of the Arizona Cardinals looks to make a pass against the New York Jets in the first half of the NFL game at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 17, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
    Week 7 Tale Of The Tape: Seattle Seahawks At Arizona Cardinals

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  3. FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 16:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots prepares to receive a snap during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on October 16, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Quarterback  Landry Jones #3 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass during warm ups before playing against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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