Bengals Cornerback Eli Apple Foolishly Ignites Rivalry With Lamar Jackson and the Ravens Before Must-Win Showdown in AFC North
The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens will battle for AFC North supremacy in Week 16. Cincinnati got the better of Baltimore in the first meeting, but the rematch could have more fireworks. Bengals cornerback Eli Apple added fuel to the fire with some choice words for Lamar Jackson and company.
With first place in the division on the line, expect another intense chapter in this budding rivalry.
Eli Apple took a shot at Lamar Jackson and the Ravens
The Cincinnati Bengals destroyed the Baltimore Ravens when the teams met in Week 7. The final score was 41-17, symbolizing that the game was never in doubt.
Despite striking the first blow, the Bengals appear to be itching at the seams to get their paws on the Ravens again. Cornerback Eli Apple fired a warning shot directly at quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Apple’s mom mentioned on Twitter that she needs to get another interception ball from her son. The Bengals corner responded, saying, “Next week, Lamar gone be generous.”
The sixth-year defensive back also took to Twitter to poke the bear and warn Ravens fans of what’s to come in Week 16.
“Can’t wait for that Ravens game,” Apple said. “Their fans were talking all that mess last time. It’s big smoke for them.”
It’s strange to see Eli Apple, of all players, talking trash. He’s never been a great cornerback in the NFL. He’s not having a bad statistical season, but he’s also not a difference-maker. The Ohio State product has a 59.7 grade from Pro Football Focus for the 2021 season.
Surely, the Ravens won’t need bulletin board material for this matchup.
The Bengals have a chance to create separation in the AFC North
The Bengals enter this all-important showdown with all the momentum. Zac Taylor’s squad is 8-6 but owns the tiebreaker over the Ravens right now.
Cincinnati is coming off a close road win over the Denver Broncos. Another massive factor working in the Bengals’ favor is they’re the healthier football team. Baltimore’s injury history has been the story of its season. Cincy has managed to stay relatively unscathed for much of 2021.
The Bengals are seeking their first AFC North title since 2015. If they take care of business against the Ravens in Week 16, they will put themselves in the driver’s seat.
So how does Cincinnati get the job done?
Well, they follow the same blueprint from Round 1. The offense needs to implement a balanced dose of run and pass, featuring Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon.
Joe Burrow must also air it out, as he and Ja’Marr Chase found great success in the first meeting. The rookie wideout caught eight passes for 201 yards and a touchdown. Baltimore’s secondary is more banged up than ever before, so the Bengals need to take advantage.
Cincinnati’s defense has improved since the 2020 season, and it will need another strong performance to get by the Ravens.
Baltimore want to exact revenge to avoid missing the playoffs
With arguably the biggest game of the season coming up, the Baltimore Ravens don’t know if they’ll have Lamar Jackson. The former MVP has been battling an ankle injury but may still not be ready to return to action.
Eli Apple will have to worry about stopping Tyler Huntley if Jackson cannot go. The Ravens’ backup quarterback put together a fantastic performance against the Green Bay Packers in Jackson’s absence.
No matter which quarterback plays, he will need some help to knock off the Bengals. Baltimore has the most injury-riddled roster in the NFL right now, losing more bodies by the week. However, the next-man-up approach has carried John Harbaugh’s crew this far.
The offense got some nice things going against the Packers. Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown must be heavily involved once again.
Wink Martindale’s defense will have its hands full with the explosive Bengals offense. The losses of Marlon Humphrey, Marcus Peters, and DeShon Elliott are huge. However, the other defensive leaders like Patrick Queen must lead the charge.
After three straight losses, the Ravens are fighting for their playoff lives. No matter what Eli Apple or any Cincy player says, Baltimore doesn’t need added motivation.
Another loss would brutally rip control right from the Ravens’ hands.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference