Looking for a Marquee game for Week 5, a not-so-obvious choice really hit me from way out in left field. If "Marquee" is defined (by me, for football) as two good teams in a game with serious implications, you'll understand why I chose:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Baltimore Ravens
Line: Ravens by 8 1/2
Think Ray Lewis and the Baltimore defense are still pissed about getting jobbed by the officials last week? Think ol' Ray Ray is going to use that as big time motivation to get his group amped up for a big time division game? Think Cincinnati wants to prove they're the real deal after a surprising 3-1 start? Could this game be an early indicator of who will win the suddenly competitive and neck-and-neck AFC North? Sign me up!
I began this by talking about Baltimore's D. However, I'm far more interested in their suddenly sizzling, high flying offense. The Ravens have always been a team that runs the ball well, and they are continuing that tradition magnificently this year. The passing game, though, has been nothing short of a revelation. Change one badly dropped fourth down pass last week, and Baltimore is 4-0, and has beaten some really good teams on the strength of their offense. The defense has looked surprisingly out of sync, and has yet to really hit their stride. Joe Flacco, with his impressive play, has been able to hide that surprising weakness really well.
Cincinnati has been pretty much firing on all cylinders this year. The offense has returned to its explosive form, and Mike Zimmer's defense has been playing sound, inspired football. No one could look at the over-the-summer zoo in Cincinnati and say they saw this kind of start coming. This game is a chance for the Bengals to prove to the rest of the league that they're serious about this "playing-good-football" thing. I think they have the talent and inspiration to really take it to the Ravens, even when playing in Baltimore.
Of course, if you've been reading the blog for a few weeks, you know I really believe in the Ravens in 2009. I think the Bengals are way better than people expected, and that it's for real, not just a flash in the football pan. However, the Ravens are just the better team at the moment, and will take this one in solid, if unspectacular, fashion.