The Baltimore Ravens are back in control of the AFC North, but no one seems to be running away with the division. The Ravens will try to pad their lead when they host the winless Cincinnati Bengals in their third consecutive divisional challenge.
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Baltimore squandered an opportunity with a 40-25 loss at home to Cleveland in Week 4 but bounced back by outlasting Pittsburgh 26-23 in overtime last week and needs continued improvement from quarterback Lamar Jackson, who totaled five interceptions in the last two contests. "He's thinking 100 percent about the plays he could have made, should have made, thought he should have made, what the defense was, what the next play call is going to be," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told reporters of Jackson. "And to me, as a quarterback, that's a really good trait and one of the reasons that makes him who he is." The Bengals have their own problems on offense and rank 31st in the NFL in red zone efficiency, scoring four touchdowns in 14 trips. "You can look at a couple specific plays," first-year coach Zac Taylor told reporters when asked about the red zone issues. "We just have to make the play when the opportunity is there. We feel like there are opportunities there, we just have to step up and make the play. Everything is involved in that. So, that's where we're at."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Ravens -10.5. O/U: 48
ABOUT THE BENGALS (0-5): Cincinnati's red zone offense has been missing a big piece all season in Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, who missed the first five games with an ankle injury and remains out despite returning to practice on Thursday. "He's a big part of this team, a big part of this organization," Taylor told reporters of Green, who has been the subject of trade rumors. "When he comes back, he'll be a big boost for us. l love being around the guy. Love everything about him. So, we want him around here." The Bengals are also missing wideout John Ross III (shoulder), leaving Tyler Boyd (37 catches, 406 yards, one TD) as quarterback Andy Dalton's top target.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (3-2): Baltimore spent the first month of the season dealing with injury issues in the secondary and lost safety Tony Jefferson (knee) for the season in last week's win. Backup Chuck Clark is expected to step into Jefferson's starting spot alongside veteran Earl Thomas, with DeShon Elliott taking on a bigger role as well. "We're building that chemistry and it starts with communication," Clark told reporters. "You get a feel for it in practice and then it carries over into games. It's a process but I've been here long enough to feel comfortable in this defense. ... I've been waiting for this for three years. Now it's here. It's time to take advantage."
1. Bengals LT Andre Smith (ankle) is questionable for Sunday, and G Alex Redmond is a candidate to start in his place on the line.
2. Ravens K Justin Tucker is 10-of-10 in field-goal attempts and 15-of-15 on extra-point tries.
3. The teams split the two-game series in each of the last three seasons, with the home team taking both meetings in 2018.
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Key Players to Watch
- SuspensionElig Week 5 | out
Hurst will have to wait until Week 5 against the Chargers to make his team debut as he will have to serve a four-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drugs policy.
- KneeQues Week 1 | questionable
Breeland is on the mend from a torn ACL and meniscus in his knee, leaving his status for Week 1 versus the Browns in question.