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A Look at the Bengals, Ravens Playoff Pictures

For the Cincinnati Bengals (9-4), they started the season with high expectations and if they win out, they may just be closer to meeting them.

With three games remaining, if the current No. 3 seed Bengals wins all of them, they could find themselves with an AFC No. 2 seed for the playoffs. This would bring a first-round bye and home-field advantage. But the stars will need to align.

First up? A loss by the New England Patriots (10-3), the current AFC No. 2 seed, will be helpful. One loss by the Patriots in its final three games could really help the Bengals grab the coveted seed.

Andy Dalton

Andy Dalton

But it’s one game at a time and to extend their current three-game win steak, the Bengals will first play the Pittsburgh Steelers (5-8) on Sunday night. To clinch a playoff berth this week, they’ll need to either defeat or tie the Steelers. So much for one Patriots loss, they’ll need them to beat the Miami Dolphins (7-6).

Looks like Bengals (-2.5, 41 o/u) and Patriots (-1, 45.5 o/u) wins this week.

For now, the AFC North title can also come the Bengals’ way this weekend with again, a win or tie over the Steelers and a Monday night Ravens loss against the Detroit Lions (7-6).

The Lions get the win (-7, 48 o/u).

In reality, the Bengals are likely seeking a seed change (at the earliest, this can’t come until Week 16 for No. 2) and to get closer, they’ll need to defeat the Steelers and the Dolphins to beat the Patriots.

A worse case scenario for the Bengals has them finishing at 10-6 for the season and the Ravens ending at 9-7. A key to their future will lie with the Ravens Monday night game.

Fortunately for the Bengals, it appears that Good Andy Dalton has returned and in last week’s 42-28 win against the Indianapolis Colts (8-5), he had his best game since the Week 9 loss to the Dolphins which included 338 passing yards.

On Sunday, he only threw for 275 yards–the most since that Halloween game. He had four touchdowns (three passing and one rushing) with zero picks. This represented his first game in six to to not toss an interception. Dalton looked good and now people are again reminded he was the AFC’s October offensive player of the month.

Can he lead this team to a Super Bowl win? The Bengals sit at 16/1 to do so.

As for the Ravens, they can see their road to the playoffs with three straight wins, but they’ll need to win two of them on the road.

For now,  they are sitting in the sixth AFC playoff spot with a trip first to Detroit on Monday, followed by the Patriots at home and then the regular-season finale against the Bengals on their home field.

Playing on the opponents’ home field hasn’t bode well for the Ravens as they sit at 1-5 for road games this season (6-1 at home). This has included losses against the lowly Buffalo Bills (4-9) and the Cleveland Browns (4-9).

John Harbaugh

John Harbaugh

Why the poor road play? The question had recently been posed to Ravens coach John Harbaugh, who responded via ESPN, “I think we have won the close games at home and we didn’t win them on the road. That’s the bottom line. So, we’ve done the things that we’ve needed to do to win tight games at home and we haven’t done the things we needed to do on the road. It’s us. It’s what we’ve done, the plays we’ve made or haven’t made that have made the difference.”

This week against Detroit, they’ll face a team who is 4-2 at home and a dome game–something they haven’t done since winning the Super Bowl. Will they be able to deal with the noise?

Vegas says no and gives them 50/1 odds to win this year’s Super Bowl.


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