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(AP) -- The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens look like different teams than the ones that met in the season opener.

 

The Bengals received a solid effort in winning that contest from A.J. Green, whose status is unclear for Sunday's rematch in Cincinnati between the AFC North's top teams.

 

Cincinnati (3-2-1) outscored foes 80-33 in a 3-0 start, but has been outscored 107-54 in going 0-2-1 since.

 

"We've got a lot of details to be better at, and to challenge ourselves to be better at, and we have to do it very quickly," coach Marvin Lewis said.

 

The Bengals would like to get back to the level of play they displayed in a 23-16 win at Baltimore (5-2) on Sept. 7. Green caught six passes for a season-high 131 yards and a touchdown.

 

The star receiver, who has 343 yards and three scores in his last three games versus the Ravens, has missed the last two contests with an injured right big toe that has bothered him all season.

 

"A.J.'s made a lot of progress, and as we go through the week we'll see as always how things go," Lewis said Monday. "I think he's made significant progress, and feels good about everything that he's being told, and what the prognosis is."

 

Green, though, did not practice with the team Wednesday.

 

Baltimore has developed into one of the NFL's most dominant teams, outscoring opponents by a league-best 89 points. The Ravens can put a stranglehold on the North by winning road games at Cincinnati and third-place Pittsburgh over the next two weeks.

 

"We'll learn where we stand after the nine-game mark of the season," coach John Harbaugh said. "That's what we'll find out. And that's going to be very interesting. I'm looking forward to finding that out. It's a big deal."

 

The Ravens have outscored foes 77-24 in back-to-back wins, with their pass rush producing five sacks in each of them. Elvis Dumervil has 3.5 sacks in that span, Pernell McPhee has three and Terrell Suggs two.

 

Tackle Haloti Ngata has anchored a defensive line limiting opponents to 87.4 rushing yards per game.

 

"McPhee's playing his tail off, and Suggs and Dumervil and Ngata, they've got the guys rolling up front," Lewis said. "It's a big football game for us."

 

The Ravens pass rush wasn't a factor in the opener. Andy Dalton wasn't sacked as he went 25 of 38 for 301 yards and the touchdown to Green.

 

Dalton was not sacked in his first three games but has been dropped five times in this winless stretch, including three in last Sunday's 27-0 loss at Indianapolis.

 

The Bengals were held to a season-low 32 yards rushing. Giovani Bernard was limited to a career-worst 17 yards one week after he had a career-high 137 in a 37-all tie with Carolina.

 

"We didn't do a very good job, number one in the running game, and number two, being solid in protection throughout the day," Lewis said. "We didn't really make adjustment enough in our play to adapt to the things that were going on."

 

Baltimore will look for more balance this time after Joe Flacco matched a career high with 62 pass attempts in the opener. He threw for a season-high 345 yards and was sacked three times.

 

Flacco has been sacked 10 times in his last three games against the Bengals.

 

The Ravens, held to 94 yards rushing in the opener, figure to be more effective on the ground now. Justin Forsett has 206 yards over the last two weeks.

 

Baltimore cruised past Atlanta 29-7 last Sunday, with Flacco throwing scoring passes to Torrey Smith and Owen Daniels.

 

Daniels has been more productive in the absence of fellow tight end Dennis Pitta, who had 10 catches for 83 yards in the first meeting but is out for the season with a dislocated right hip.

 

The Bengals are unsure of the status of linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who strained his neck last Sunday but did practice Wednesday.

 

The Ravens have dropped seven of their last nine in Cincinnati.

 

"It's not the last game of the season. It doesn't have that kind of drama to it, but it is important," Harbaugh said. "You are in your division, you're playing a team on the road, a team that's beaten us once at home already."

 

Source: Hosted.Stats.com

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It all comes down to AJ Green. His impact on this team cannot be understated. You'd expect the offense to adapt, give Hill a bigger workload to shoulder while Gio becomes your playmaker, but that hasn't happened over this three game stretch. If Green doesn't play, the Bengals have no shot.

 

:Ravens: 27

:Bengals: 20

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Giovani Bernard is active for Week 8 against Baltimore.

Bernard was listed as probable with a rib injury, so he was fully expected to play.
The rest of Cincinnati's Week 8 inactives are WR A.J. Green, RB Rex Burkhead, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, LB Rey Maualuga, OL Tanner Hawkinson, DE Will Clarke, and DT Brandon Thompson.

 

 

 

Jamison Hensley @jamisonhensley

#Ravens inactive: RB Bernard Pierce, CB Chyke Brown, ILB Arthur Brown, G/C Gino Gradkowski, G/T Jah Reid, TE Owen Daniels, DE Chris Canty

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Here is the OPI on Smitty. Have at it

:giphy.gif

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