The Ravens' secondary, a much maligned group coming into this season, looked pretty darn sharp against the Jets on Monday night.
Yes, I just said "pretty darn". Didn't sound smooth when I was typing it, but I went for it anyway.
The Ravens allowed just 60 net passing yards against the Jets, held quarterback Mark Sanchez to just 10 completions, and only allowed one passing play of over 10 yards.
Can't ask for a much better outing than that.
But the Ravens' defensive backs will face a much tougher test on Sunday, one which will truly tell how this squad will be able to battle the top passing attacks in the NFL.
The Bengals, Baltimore's opponent Sunday afternoon, aren't the Jets. They don't have a second-year quarterback who is still learning how to adapt to complex defenses; they have a two-time Pro Bowler in Carson Palmer who can make all the throws and is comfortable against the Ravens defense.
Their top receiver isn't a guy who has alligator arms and struggles to catch a pass when a defender is within 10 yards; they have two legitimate deep threats in Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens, two solid reserve wideouts in Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell, and a young athletic tight end in Jermaine Gresham who the Ravens seriously considered entering this year's draft.
"We're going to see more than seven passes in the first three quarters, so we've got to be ready for that," safety Tom Zbikowski said this week, clearly aware that the Bengals present a different challenge than the Jets.
While the Ravens effectively shut down New York's passing attack on Monday, they'll need to adapt a different strategy against Cincinnati. The Bengals are a team that can spread the Ravens out wide with all their receiving weapons, meaning the Ravens will likely need to bring out their nickel and dime packages often on Sunday.
That means more of safety Haruki Nakamura matched up against a wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. It means newly acquired corner Josh Wilson will need to get thrust into action. It means the secondary as a whole will have to step up and prove that they can hang with the big-boy passing offenses, not just the ones who rely on their running game to move the chains and put points on the board.
"I just think that you look at their front, they've got weapons all the way across," head coach John Harbaugh said. "I just think you've got to be able to cover all those guys, and that's what makes them so dangerous.
"Then you've got Carson Palmer - premiere quarterback. [He] has proven it - has really proven it against the Ravens. How many times has he played well against the Ravens in the last eight years or so? We've got our hands full with that offense."