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Bengals Await Playoff Opponents; Face Ravens

Cincinnati celebrated a second straight playoff berth with a win over the Steelers last Sunday, and now look to upend Baltimore in the final week of the regular season.

Cincinnati secured the final berth in this season’s AFC Playoffs by way of a 13-10 victory over Pittsburgh last Sunday.

Now the Bengals must wait to find out their opponents in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, to be played on Jan. 5-6, 2013.

Baltimore meanwhile secured a second straight AFC North title – and the No. 4 seed in the playoffs – with a decisive win over the New York Giants.

Baltimore will face Indianapolis in the World Card playoffs, but before that, the Ravens and Bengals will clash in Week 17.

Baltimore Ravens (10-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-6)

Cincinnati (9-6, 3-4 home) will look to build on its current momentum heading into the postseason. The side will also be looking for a spot of revenge against the Ravens. The Maryland side secured a 44-13 victory in Week 1, a game that offered a lot of promise for Joe Flacco and Co.

To put it bluntly, Baltimore (10-5, 4-3 road) is spluttering. The Ravens’ 33-14 win over the New York Giants this past weekend put the skids on a three-game losing streak, but this is not the dominant defensive side we’ve come to expect. Another loss this weekend could prove disastrous for a side that will head into January with little confidence.

The spread opened at three-points, in favor of the Bengals. Winners of six of the last seven, and making only its second back-to-back postseason appearance, Cincinnati will look to take advantage of a superior record against the spread (8-6-1 ATS) to hand the Ravens a fourth loss in five games, and an almost debilitating entry to the postseason.

The over/under has opened at 43. The total has gone over in eight Ravens games this season – a sign of the diminishing defense that has been on display – while it has gone under in nine Bengals games. Two of the last three meetings between the sides have finished over 43 points – including the Ravens’ Week 1 victory this season – but prior to that, seven straight had fallen under that marker.

With the No. 6 seed secured, Cincinnati will hit the road for the first round of the playoffs. Where the side goes will depend on other results this weekend.

As it stands, the Bengals will make the trip to New England. That trip will be confirmed if the Patriots fall to Miami on Sunday or if Denver and Houston both win. If however the Patriots win, a loss for Denver at home to Kansas City will send the Bengals to the Mile High City. Houston may also be the destination, if the Texans lose to Indianapolis and the Patriots and Broncos are both victorious.

Regardless, the Bengals – currently 40/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII – will be underdogs heading into postseason play.

Baltimore will play at home in the opening round of the postseason, welcoming Indianapolis. The current form of both sides could see the Ravens enter the game as underdogs, but then again, the experience on offer here will make it tough for the young Colts. As it stands, Baltimore is 20/1 to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy while Indianapolis is a lengthy outsider at 60/1.

Cleveland Browns (5-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (7-8)

Elsewhere in the AFC North, Cleveland (5-10, 1-6 road) travels to Pittsburgh (7-8, 4-3 home) to close out the season.

By lieu of Pittsburgh’s loss to Cincinnati last weekend, this game now means absolutely squat in the grand scheme of things.

Cleveland has been dead in the water for weeks, although only officially eliminated  from the postseason following Week 15, and now Pittsburgh finds itself in the same position.

With it highly likely that both teams will field understrength sides, bookmakers have yet to put this one on the board.

Check in with BettingSports.com on Sunday to find out the lines and spread on this one.

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