The Baltimore Ravens might have a little bit of extra motivation heading into their crucial Week 16 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals after Bengals cornerback Eli Apple made a bold prediction on December 19.
Apple called his shot against Ravens star quarterback Lamar Jackson, who might not even play in Cincinnati due to an ankle injury that has held him out of practice for two weeks.
Jackson has thrown a career-high 13 interceptions this season, including a brutal four-pick outing against the Cleveland Browns in Week 12 that did feature some generous throws to defenders. But if Jackson can’t play, Apple will have to go against Ravens backup quarterback Tyler Huntley, who has thrown only one interception in 125 passing attempts this season.
It’s unclear why Apple is so confident about his playmaking ability, as he only has five interceptions in his seven seasons and and more than 4,000 snaps since being a top 10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. He also hasn’t earned a season-long grade of 65.0 or better from Pro Football Focus in that span, with a 59.7 overall defensive grade in 2021 that ranks 80th among all cornerbacks. Apple has especially struggled to tackle, missing 11 of his 50 tackle attempts this season on his way to a 30.0 tackling grade that’s second-worst at his position.
But that hasn’t stopped Apple from talking trash all year, first mocking the Ravens after a Week 7 Bengals win in Baltimore and then going after Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy after their Week 15 matchup.
While Apple and the Bengals did hold Jeudy to zero catches on December 19, that’s more of an indictment on the Broncos’ quarterback situations rather than Jeudy’s receiving ability.
After all, he was consistently getting open against Cincinnati, with Denver’s quarterbacks simply failing to target Jeudy when he beat his defender.
Ravens Fans React to Apple’s Comments
Unsurprisingly, Apple’s comments did not resonate with Ravens fans, who called out the former Ohio State Buckeye’s less than sterling NFL pedigree.
Another took the time for some creative photo edits of Apple, portraying the ex-New York Giant as a piece of burnt toast to represent his coverage skills.
One fan even looked through Apple’s recent likes on Twitter, noticing that he has been liking a lot of posts by Ravens star wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown.
History of Ravens-Bengals Trash Talk
Apple first went after the Ravens after the Bengals’ October 24 victory in Baltimore, but at least that time he waited until after the game ended to talk trash. But this week, he’s even shouting down his own fans who warned him about giving the Ravens “bulletin board material” for the December 26 game.
He also criticized the idea that his comments should give the Ravens any “extra motivation,” though he may want to look back to the last time a Bengals defender made a bold pregame prediction.
In January 2021, ahead of a Week 17 matchup with the Ravens, Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt predicted that the Ravens would lose the game and miss the playoffs.
Instead, Baltimore rolled to a 38-3 victory, racking up 404 rushing yards, the highest single-game total for any team since 2000 and the fourth-most all time, per Statmuse. Ravens fans let Pratt have it on Twitter following the game, as reported by USA Today’s Matthew Stevens.
Lamar Jackson seems to be aware of Apple’s comments, having liked a now-deleted response from Jerry Jeudy, per a screenshot posted by a Ravens fan on Twitter.
Whether it’s Jackson or Huntley at quarterback for the Ravens, the Baltimore offense will certainly be looking to make Apple eat his words come Sunday.