The Bengals are looking for their seventh win in their past eight games, a feat unheard of in Bengaldom late in the regular season. Typically this has been the time of the year when the Bengals have played some of their worst football, but this team is different. They have a pretty consistent running game and a nightmare-inducing defense that will terrify even the greatest of quarterbacks.
I expect the Ravens to be resting a lot of their starters Sunday in hopes of getting healthy for the postseason, while the Bengals will look to continue their red-hot streak while helping Marvin Lewis become the only coach in team history to win 10 or more games in three different seasons.
Bengals 27, Ravens 13
This is a principle game, if there is such a thing. Neither team has anything to truly gain from a win except to maintain momentum going into the playoffs. Terrance Newman is questionable, which hurts the secondary, but Joe Flacco has to prove what sort of day he is having before that becomes definitive. True, the Ravens offense goes through Ray Rice, but Ray Rice has to go through the 8th ranked run defense.
Conversely, the Ravens have been gnashed lately by sub-par running offenses, leaving them 24th in the League against the run. Still, if the Bengals are relying on Kyle Cook, then they better hope Ngata doesn’t play if they have any designs on springing BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Expect both coaches to try big plays early to put this one away early and give both squads an excuse to sit starters. Cincinnati strikes early and often.