Can Ravens beat Carson Palmer, Bengals?

Lost in the immense preseason hype surrounding the Baltimore Ravens is a question no one is asking: Can they beat the defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals?

It's a legitimate question that's being ignored entering the 2010 season. Because of Cincinnati's history of inconsistency, many pundits are overlooking how much Baltimore has struggled against Cincinnati in recent years when forecasting a division winner.

The Bengals have been inconsistent overall. But quarterback Carson Palmer plays his best against the Ravens, posting an 8-3 mark in 11 career starts.

Also worth noting: The Ravens are 1-4 (including playoffs) against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their past five meetings. So if Baltimore wants to reach its ultimate goal of winning a Super Bowl, the team likely has to take care of business first against its division rivals.

History has shown that it won't be easy.