OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- To avoid the first 0-3 start in franchise history, the Baltimore Ravens must overcome their biggest challenge of the season on Sunday, when they play the Cincinnati Bengals. At least, that's the opinion of Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
Asked about the Bengals' wide receivers, Harbaugh went out of his way to bestow a major compliment on the AFC North leaders.
"I’ll tell you, I do believe it is the most talented team in the league," Harbaugh said.
You read that correctly. Not the Patriots. Not the Packers. Not even the Steelers.
Harbaugh puts the Bengals above all of them based on their personnel, and Cincinnati is indeed loaded with impact players. For the last four years — all playoff seasons — the Bengals have been known as one of the most balanced teams in the league. The biggest knock on Cincinnati has been its quarterback, but this season Andy Dalton has yet to throw an interception, get sacked or lose a fumble.
"We have great respect for them, for their coaches [and] the way they play," Harbaugh said. "Obviously, it starts with A.J. Green, but the whole cast of characters there on offense is very talented and gifted – tight ends, running backs, quarterback. The whole group is very good, and they have a heck of an offensive line. I’d say they’re the complete package, talent-wise.”
Cincinnati has certainly earned such respect. The Bengals have beaten the Ravens in three straight meetings, including a sweep last season. The last time Harbaugh knocked off Cincinnati was November 2013.
If the Ravens can't end that streak Sunday, they will fall three games behind the Bengals. That would be a lot of ground to make up against the most talented team in the NFL.