burrow-4.png
USA Today

Joe Burrow's first game against the Ravens was a forgettable one. In his fifth career start, the former No. 1 overall pick was sacked seven times as Cincinnati's offense scored just three points. Conversely, Lamar Jackson faced little resistance, as he threw two touchdown passes in leading the Ravens to a 24-point win. 

While the Ravens are still formidable, this is not your typical Bengals team. Cincinnati is 4-2 and just one game behind Baltimore in the AFC North division standings. Burrow has played a big role in the Bengals' fast start, along with a defense that is currently fifth in the NFL in points allowed. A win against Baltimore would give Cincinnati sole possession in the AFC North, while a Ravens win would give Baltimore a sizable lead over the rest of the field entering their Week 8 bye. 

We'll break down Sunday's game as well as offer a prediction. But first, here's how you can follow the action in real time. 

All NFL odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.

How to watch 

Date: Sunday, Oct. 24 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore
TV: 
CBS | Stream: Paramount+ (click here)
Follow: CBS Sports App 
Odds: Ravens -6.5, 47.5 

Preview

Despite numerous injuries to their backfield, the Ravens are still fourth in the NFL in rushing. Baltimore has had to continue to lean on the legs of Lamar Jackson, who is averaging just over 65 rushing yards per game. Sans Jackson's two touchdown passes, Cincinnati's defense largely contained the former league MVP in their first matchup with Baltimore last season. They held Jackson to just three rushing yards and 180 yards on 19 of 37 passing. They struggled to contain Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews, who caught a combined 12 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns. 

A part of Cincinnati's improved defense has been the additions of pass rusher Trey Hendrickson, defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Larry Ogunjobi, and defensive backs Mike Hilton, Eli Apple and Chidobe Awuzie. Former first-round pick Vonn Bell has enjoyed a career resurgence in Cincinnati. The glue to Cincinnati's defense has been second year linebacker Logan Wilson, who leads the unit with four interceptions. His presence should help the Bengals contain both Jackson and Andrews. 

Cincinnati's offense has received a strong start from Burrow, who has shown no signs of rust after missing the final six games of the 2020 season due to injury. He's completed nearly 71 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns. He has been reunited with former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase, who is the current front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year after catching five touchdowns in the season's first six games. 

Along with receivers Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins, Burrow has enjoyed a successful partnership with tight end C.J. Uzomah, who is second on the team with three touchdown catches. Cincinnati's passing is complemented by Joe Mixon, who has averaged 80 yards on the ground through six games. The Bengals' skill position players have benefitted from a vastly improved offensive line, led by veterans Riley Reiff and Trey Hopkins along with rookie Jackson Carman

Cincinnati will struggle to gain traction on the traction on the ground against Baltimore's third-ranked run defense. They will likely have more success in the air against the Ravens' 25th ranked pass defense. Baltimore has struggled to overcome the loss of Marcus Peters, who had been half of one of the NFL's top cornerback duos alongside Marlon Humphrey. The strength of the Ravens' defense has been a pass rush that has been led by rookie Odafe Oweh and veterans Tavon Johnson, Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser. Calais Campbell has continues to make timely plays that includes his blocked field goal in Baltimore's win over the Colts. The unit held the high-powered Chargers offense to just 208 total yards in last Sunday's 34-6 win. 

Prediction 

Latest Odds: Baltimore Ravens -6.5

The Ravens are like Mike Tyson in his prime. Just ask the Chargers, who were down double digits last Sunday before they could catch their breath. If the Bengals can avoid falling behind early, they are certainly capable of pulling off an upset. Burrow will also have to take care of the ball, something that hasn't necessarily been his strength this season. The Bengals' third-ranked red zone offense will have to capitalize on their scoring opportunities against Baltimore's seventh-ranked red zone defense. Mixon will have to do enough damage to keep the Ravens' defense honest. And Cincinnati's defense will have to pick its poison as it relates to the multi-faceted Jackson. Quite a few things will have to go their way, but I think the Bengals have the personnel to pull off this upset. 

Score: Bengals 23, Ravens 20