Bengals-Ravens keys to the game

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati QB

He could be penciled into this spot all year, but Dalton’s performance will be especially key today as he tries to beat an old nemesis in a build where he has never won. The Bengals are hoping a new year, new contract and new coordinator will produce new results for No. 14.

Geno Atkins, Cincinnati DT

All eyes will be on Atkins to see how he responds in his first game back since tearing his ACL last Halloween. The injury forced the Pro Bowler to miss both Baltimore games last year, but he has four sacks in his previous six games against the Ravens.

Emmanuel Lamur, Cincinnati LB

The coaches repeatedly talked about how big his injury in the preseason finale was last year because they had such big plans for him. Those plans have carried over, and Lamur will get a test right off the bat against one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the AFC in Dennis Pitta.

Bernard Pierce, Baltimore, RB

Pierce will be making his second career start with Ray Rice beginning a two-game suspension, but the third-year player from Temple has 260 career carries under his belt. Look for the Ravens to lean heavily on him in their revamped offense with new coordinator Gary Kubiak.

James Ihedigbo, Baltimore, S

Two of the three interceptions Ihedigbo had in the regular season last year came in the 20-17 overtime win against the Bengals in Week 10. The first one set up a Ravens TD that made it 17-0 late in the second quarter, and the second ended a Cincinnati drive at the Baltimore 12 with 1:55 left in the game. Ihedigbo also had a game-high nine tackles that day.

Steve Smith, Baltimore WR

The Ravens struggled all last season trying to find a consistent No. 2 receiver opposite Torrey Smith but never really did. They are hoping the 13-year veteran still has enough left to help open the passing game. Smith will be starting his 162nd career start.

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