The Baltimore Ravens were off this Sunday, but they still had plenty of interest in the slate of Week 4 games. Two of their fellow AFC North combatants were in action Sunday, and while one of the two teams lost, the Ravens cannot be satisfied with how the weekend played out.
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The Cleveland Browns fell at the hands of the San Diego Chargers on Sunday by a score of 30-27, and it was how they lost that will haunt Cleveland. Chargers kicker Josh Lambo missed a 39-yard field goal as time expired, but Tramon Williams was called offside, which gave San Diego another attempt. Lambo would convert the 34-yarder to win the game, which dropped the Browns record to 1-3.
The Ravens were really hoping for some help from the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend, but they could not get the job done as they were defeated by the Cincinnati Bengals, 36-21. Kansas City actually had success moving the ball against the Bengals defense, but couldn’t finish drives off as Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos connected on seven field goals in the game. The seven field goals were a record for a Chiefs kicker, but rarely do teams win when forced to kick so many times.
The Bengals are now 4-0 and have matched the third-best start in their franchise history. The club is two wins shy from matching their best starts of 6-0 back in 1975 and 1988. They will have to earn that mark by defeating the Seattle Seahawks next week and the Buffalo Bills the following week.
Prior to their matchup in Week 3, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that the Bengals were “the most talented team in the league.” Four weeks into the NFL season, you can make a case that Harbaugh was right to make that statement. The offense is averaging 422 yards per game, which is second-best to the New England Patriots. Andy Dalton has been very impressive thus far, ranking in the top-3 in passing yards and touchdowns, and is second to just Aaron Rodgers with a 123 quarterback rating. Jeremy Hill, A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard give Dalton plenty of dynamic options for the Bengals to get the ball to make plays. The defense is no slouch either, allowing just 77 points so far this season.
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It is not going to be easy for the Ravens to get back into the thick of the division race, especially with the Bengals continuing to manhandle their opponents. The initial step was to get that first win, and they did so by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on a short week. Baltimore and Cincinnati were the only two teams in the division to get a win, and the Ravens can only hope that the Seahawks can help them out next week.
The Browns are next up for the Ravens, and a win this week will have Baltimore at 2-3, and depending on how the Steelers fare in Week 5, the Ravens could only be looking up at the Bengals in the division race. Harbaugh and his coaching staff has had the added time to game plan for Cleveland, and a loss this week would likely be a tough blow to any playoff hopes.
It remains to be seen whether Steve Smith Sr. will take the field next week, and with the injuries to Breshad Perriman and Michael Campanaro, the Ravens are really thin at wide receiver. They traded a seventh-round pick to the St. Louis Rams for Chris Givens over the weekend, but do not expect him to be able to contribute right away, if at all. He does offer the speed that the Ravens are lacking at the position, but Givens was buried on the depth chart with the Rams, and they aren’t exactly stacked with talent at wide out.
No one expected the Ravens to be 1-3 after the first month of the season, but they cannot erase what has already been done. All they can do is continue to grind their way back into a potential playoff hunt by taking care of the business that is ahead. That starts Sunday with a win over a Browns team that Baltimore should beat.
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