Late For Work 11/17: Bengals ‘Can’t Win’ Without Green

Five Ravens lead Pro Bowl voting; psychologists analyze letdowns; players in agreement?

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, November 17th, 2011 at 9:11 am | Categories: Questioning The Enemy, Sarah Ellison

Hensley: Bengals Can’t Win Without Green

Leading all NFL rookies in receptions (41), receiving yards (635) and receiving touchdowns (six), wide receiver A.J. Green has been a major force behind the Cincinnati Bengals’ surprising 6-3 start.

That’s why ESPN’s Jamison Hensley says it’s a “serious concern” that Green told The Cincinnati Enquirer yesterday he will be a game-time decision for Sunday’s game at M&T Bank Stadium.

“Without Green, the Bengals won’t beat the Ravens,” Hensley predicted. “He is the top offensive playmaker on the team and perhaps on the field Sunday (that is, if the Ravens remember Ray Rice is playing).”

The rookie first-round pick hyperextended his knee in a loss to the Steelers Sunday, and didn’t play in the second half. From there, the Bengals offense struggled.

Only Andrew Hawkins stepped up with Green sidelined, notching five catches for 56 yards. But neither Jerome Simpson (zero catches) nor Andre Caldwell (three catches for 25 yards) provided much help.

“The Bengals will have trouble stringing together double-digit play scoring drives against the Ravens,” wrote Hensley. “They’ll need to stretch the field (yes, even with Ed Reed back there). And no one can make plays deep like Green, who has four catches of more than 40 yards (tied for third-most in the NFL).”

Remember, though, Green’s absence is not certain.

Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis seemed encouraged after an MRI on Green’s knee saying, “He should be fine.”

Five Ravens Lead Pro Bowl Voting

Five Ravens are the leading AFC vote-getters at their positions in the 2012 Pro Bowl voting:

  • Offensive tackle Michael Oher (120,961)
  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (240,675)
  • Inside linebacker Ray Lewis (195,131)
  • Free safety Ed Reed (78,802)
  • Special teams Brendon Ayanbadejo (39,866)

The All-Star squads are based on the combined votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters.

Fans have five weeks remaining to register their votes at NFL.com/probowl. Balloting will conclude on Dec. 19 following the conclusion of Monday Night Football at 8:30 p.m.  

Psychologists Analyze Trap Games

Reporters asked Head Coach John Harbaugh Monday if there was any psychological connection in the Ravens’ three losses this season.

Harbaugh explained, “I’m not a psychologist” and said he is focused on finding “football-related answers.”

But many observers are still baffled by the Ravens’ six wins that have come against teams with a combined record of 31-26 (.544) and their three losses that have come against teams with a combined record of 11-16 (.407).

Determined to get a psychological analysis, two reporters – Hensley and The Baltimore Sun’s Matt Vensel – went to the professionals.

Dr. Jessica Mohler, a clinical and sports psychologist at the U.S. Naval Academy, told Vensel that athletes generally (not specifically talking about the Ravens) conduct an “appraisal process” of their opponent. Players’ minds and bodies will then react appropriately.

According to Mohler, athletes tend to perform their best when they feel challenged.

“In that appraisal process, there is an emotional and physiological response,” said Mohler. “So we feel a certain way and our body responds in a certain way. … Then we see the outcome, which is behavior, performance, decision-making. It really relies on this physiological response that occurs. You will get more pumped up for a competitive team and you will have a more ideal emotional response and physiological response and then you will perform at a higher level.”

Hensley asked Dr. Joel Fish, of the Center of Sport Psychology in Philadelphia, about the possibility of experiencing a “letdown” after an emotionally charged win.

“There’s only so much emotion in the tank,” Dr. Fish told Hensley. “When you come off a game against the Steelers, you’re literally on empty and any football fan can see both teams are on empty. We’re not dealing with machines or robots. You see this a lot with rivals. You don’t have time to fill the emotional tank.

“In a game like football, which is such an emotional game and the talent level not being that different between the great teams and the have-nots, I think, yes, you can say emotionally in the NFL there are certain games that [are] trap games and certain games where teams are vulnerable for a letdown.”

A Difference Of Opinion In Locker Room?

While CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg admits it is tough to assess all the Ravens’ opinions on how balanced the offense should be, he gets the sense that there is a disconnect in the locker room.

He explains in the video below:

Quick Hits

  • Running back Ricky Williams may be getting less playing time than ever in his career, but he can’t remember being happier. [Associated Press]
  • “With no conviction” John Clayton picks the Ravens to be the AFC’s top seed by the time the season ends. He is sticking with Baltimore because it owns the tiebreaking edge over the Steelers. [ESPN]
  • In 10 games against rookie quarterbacks, the Ravens defense has allowed just five touchdowns and 12 interceptions while notching 23 sacks. Yet the Ravens are just 5-5 in those games. [ESPN Stats and Information]
  • Baltimore is the 60 percent favorite over the Bengals after AccuScore’s 10,000 simulations of the matchup. However, there is a 47 percent chance that running back Ray Rice rushes for less than 75 yards, and if he does Sunday, the Bengals become 59 percent favorites. [ESPN]
  • Josh Alper notes the unique way Ray Rice has chosen to handle only getting five carries in Sunday’s loss to Seattle: “It’s not the way a lot of other players would have chosen to handle the situation, although Rice has spent much of this season showing that he doesn’t do things exactly the same as his peers. His contract is up at the end of the year, but unlike some other running backs in the same boat you haven’t heard much from Rice, who is making $600,000 this year, about his desire for a new deal during the season.” [PFT.com]

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