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Week 17 Game Preview: Ravens vs. Bengals


With the 2013 AFC North title already in the bag, the Cincinnati Bengals (10-5) will undoubtedly have a happy new year whether they win or lose on Sunday, but the Baltimore Ravens (8-7) will only be able to celebrate if they earn a win against the Bengals, or get some major outside help during the final week of the regular season.

There are actually a number of scenarios in which the Ravens could clinch an AFC wild card berth, but the easiest one would be simply for Baltimore to prevail over Cincy and for either Miami or San Diego to lose. If the Ravens fail on the road today, they’ll need Miami, San Diego and Pittsburgh to all fall to their respective opponents.

Of course, winning in Cincinnati won’t be easy in the slightest, considering no team has done it this season. The Bengals have been fierce all year, but even more so at Paul Brown Stadium, where they are 7-0 in 2013.

“We want to defend home and make sure we win,” Bengals cornerback Pacman Jones told the team’s official website, according to ESPN.com. “If it was my choice, I don’t want Baltimore to make it. We’ve got to make sure we defend the house and play all four quarters.”

Although the Bengals have already clinched a playoff spot, the Ravens should expect a hard-fought game played by the starters, since Cincinnati still has a shot at a first-round bye if it wins and New England loses to Buffalo today.

“We’re used to these guys,” Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco said. “They’re a good defense. They have been for a few years now. It’s always a good test to play a division opponent in their place. They have a lot to play for. We have a lot to play for. It’s going to be a good game, a good test.”

The Ravens have certainly endured a much more up-and-down 2013 campaign, but they do know their division rivals well and actually defeated the Bengals 20-17 on Nov. 10 in Baltimore. However, they’ve enjoyed little success in Cincinnati in recent years and have lost four straight against the Bengals on the road.

Baltimore may have more on the line today, but against a stronger overall team (offensively and defensively) in a hostile environment, I can’t like its chances. Take the Bengals to cover -6 points today and finish their regular season with an 11-5 mark.







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