Home » Blog » AFC North: Ravens and Bengals face first round playoff games

AFC North: Ravens and Bengals face first round playoff games

The regular season has come to a close in the NFL and the league’s second season begins this weekend when the playoffs start on January 5.

On Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in a game that did not mean much as far as the playoffs since Baltimore had already clinched the AFC North division title and Cincinnati had already guaranteed themselves the sixth and last spot in the playoffs when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers the previous week.

Both teams rested their regular players and the Bengals went on to defeat Baltimore and break a four game losing streak against the Ravens. The win was the Bengals’ seventh over their past eight. Both teams ended the regular season with a record of 10-6, but Baltimore owned the tiebreaker for the division title.

Baltimore rested a number of starters on offense but still lost Vonta Leach their fullback to an injury early in the game along with Kelechi Osemele their starting right tackle. For the Bengals, they lost BenJarvis Green-Ellis their running back to a hamstring injury during the warm-ups and he did not play, while Chris Crocker the starting safety went out with a quadriceps injury.

This weekend the Ravens will host the Indianapolis Colts in a first round playoff matchup, while the Bengals will take on the third seeded Houston Texans.

Baltimore heads to the playoffs losers of four of their last five games however, the duo of John Harbaugh the head coach and Joe Flacco the starting quarterback have never lost a first round playoff game. For the past four seasons, the Ravens have won at least one of their playoff games.

Baltimore must start getting the ball back into the hands of running back Ray Rice. Since he started with the team as a rookie in 2008, the Ravens have a record of 23-3 when Rice touches the ball 25 or more times on offense.

However, when he gets 15 or fewer touches in a game, the Ravens drop to 12-12. If Baltimore looks to exploit the Colts’ weakness on defense they will put the ball in Rice’s hands all game long. Indianapolis is ranked no. 30 against the run in the league.

Defensively, the Ravens are nowhere near the force they have been in previous years and without injured Ray Lewis have just played a bend but not break defense. Lewis however might return from his torn triceps injury to face Indianapolis.

The Bengals face Houston, but Cincinnati has not defeated any team in the playoffs since 1991. That is the longest current winless streak in the league. However, the Bengals face a Houston team that has lost three of their past four games, while Cincinnati is 7-1 over their past eight.

Cincinnati will look to its defense, which is playing as good as any other in the league at this point, to shut down the sputtering offense of Houston. The defense of Cincinnati has scored a touchdown in its last three games. In their past eight games, the Cincinnati defense is giving up just 12.8 points a game.

With the way the four teams are playing heading in the playoffs both AFC North teams should come out victorious this weekend in the first round of the playoffs with Baltimore defeating Indianapolis and Cincinnati upsetting Houston.

  • 100%