The Baltimore Ravens travel to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Sunday with hopes of keeping their playoff dreams alive. Their opponent, the Bengals, clinched a playoff berth last week when the Dolphins lost to the Bills. They clinched the AFC North when the Ravens were demolished by the Patriots later in the afternoon last Sunday.
Unlike their late season meeting last year when both teams’ playoff lives were pretty much locked in and the second and third stringers got to play, both teams still have playoff implications to play for. The Ravens will be fighting for their playoff lives as they are in a three way tie for the second wild card spot. The Bengals have a shot at the second seed if they can win and the Patriots lose to the Bills.
The Bengals offense continued to click at home last Sunday, as they put up 42 points against a dismal Vikings defense. The 42 points marked the fourth home game in a row where the Bengals have managed to score 40 or more points. The reason for the offense clicking so well is that Andy Dalton is utilizing his weapons to their full potential: he threw for 366 yards and four touchdowns last Sunday. AJ Green grabbed two of those touchdowns, and tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu each had one of their own.
Unfortunately for the offense though, is that both of their tight ends may not be playing on Sunday against Baltimore. Rookie tight end Tyler Eifert injured his neck last Sunday against the Vikings and has not practiced all week. He is listed as doubtful. Gresham has an aggravated hamstring and he did not practice on Friday. If neither tight end can play on Sunday, it will make it easier for the Ravens to defend the Bengals offense and it would slow them down.
Last Sunday the Ravens were demolished on the road by the New England Patriots, 41-7. Head coach John Harbaugh blamed it on the short week, as they were coming off a Monday night win against Detroit. If the Bengals’ defense can play the same way it did earlier this year when the Bengals lost in Baltimore, Cincinnati will have a very good shot at winning this game. Baltimore’s defense struggled mightily against the Patriots, and the Bengals offense should be able to ride their momentum and tear apart the Ravens defense.
Being undefeated at home this season, the Bengals have been able to use the energy the sold out crowds have given them to go on to the playoffs for the third time in three years. This is a first for the franchise. They will try to get the win on Sunday and use that momentum going into the playoffs. Having a home playoff game will benefit the Bengals and hopefully get them over the playoff hump, where they have not made it out of the first round in over 20 years.
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