Before I get started I’d be remiss not to give the Baltimore Ravens the necessary props they deserve for a strong season. Win or lose on Sunday in Cincy they’ve put together a strong campaign with the expected up’s and down’s of a 16-game NFL schedule.
That being said…If the Ravens don’t win the game on Sunday, they’ll be at home in two weeks licking their wounds after a loss to the Broncos.
I know even if they lose on Sunday they’ll be the number five seed in the AFC playoffs. They’ll take a trip next week to the AFC West Champs home field (Raiders or Tebows). On the road, facing a clear underdog, in a pressure-packed game for Joe Flacco…no thank you.
The Ravens, though already in the playoffs, need this game more than the Bengals who need to win to get in. The Ravens need a week off, they need a home game, they need everything that comes from beating Pittsburgh twice during the season. The Ravens need the two seed to legitimize their season.
Sweeping the Steelers wasn’t enough. No one looks at the Ravens and thinks: Oh yeah, they’re a clear-cut Super Bowl Contender. They think: they lost to the Titans, Jags, Seahawks, and Chargers; these guys can’t be for real!
And they might be right.
With the Patriots poised to grab the number one seed in the AFC with a win at home against Buffalo, the Ravens can’t squander their last opportunity to secure home field in the playoffs. I know, I’ve beat this point to death throughout the last five to six weeks but it’s so paramount I can’t say it enough.
Everyone knows Baltimore is a different team on the road; and by different I mean much, much worse.
The offense plays without any direction while the defense gives up big play after big play. Ray Rice can run as hard as he wants but when he only gets eight carries it doesn’t matter. Joe Flacco shouldn’t be trusted to do as much as Cam Cameron and the Ravens offensive staff asks him to do, especially on the road. Are you telling me the Ravens will win a road game in Denver with Tebow mania in full effect? Or in the Black Hole where Raiders fans eat mentally weak players (Flacco) alive?
Beat these Bengals now Ravens, it’s all I ask.
The Bengals are dangerous. AJ Green may not be 100% with a shoulder injury but he’s clearly been the best rookie wide-out in this year’s class. Andy Dalton would be rookie of the year if not for Cam Newton’s statistical onslaught. Their defense is stout, their coach (Marvin Lewis) knows how to beat the Ravens, and most importantly: never back a jungle cat into a corner.
Sadly, I think the Ravens lose a close game on Sunday and then travel to Denver next weekend and lose another close one. I’m getting ahead of myself though.
Flacco and the passing game will struggle against the Bengals man-to-man press coverage, Ray Rice will get less than 15 touches, and the defense gives up a late touchdown.
Prediction: Ravens 17 – Bengals 21
About the Author
Written by Frank Sullivan
Frank is a graduate of Old Dominion University, sports fan, author, and founder of TheBloosh.com. He's been working with prosportsblogging.com since April 2011, and has covered the Chicago Bulls, Baltimore Ravens, Virginia Tech Hokies Football, and the Washington Wizards. Frank can be reached @franksullivan on twitter.