For a variety of reasons, the Bengals match up very well against the Ravens. Even though the Bengals’ offense has been up and down, the Ravens’ secondary is depleted and Ed Reed is not the once-dominant player he was. The same goes for Ray Lewis before his injury. On the opposite side, the Ravens’ front seven has been underwhelming with Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs banged up. Michael Oher has not been as dominant of a left tackle as the Sandra-Bullock movie would have you believe, and the offense has been even worse since disposing Cam Cameron for Jim Caldwell, who last called offensive plays in 2002 at Wake Forest.
While the Bengals are preparing to play this meaningless game for pride and momentum heading into the playoffs, that does not mean that any players with injuries will be pushed to play. Expect to see a long list of players ruled out for the game. Still, as long as A.J. Green is going full speed, the Bengals should not hesitate to feed Green the ball. Reed’s presence in centerfield may slow Jermaine Gresham down, but the matchup favors a Bengals team that hardly resembles the Cincinnati squad that faced the Ravens in Week 1.
Bengals 27, Ravens 17
The Ravens have been wildly inconsistent this year, often based on the play of Joe Flacco, as well as the curious decision to at times completely phase Ray Rice out of the offense. Baltimore clinched the AFC North Division crown with an impressive win over the Giants last week, and can still improve their playoff seeding with a win and some help.
Coming off an emotional win and already locked into the sixth playoff spot in the AFC, it will be interesting to see how motivated Cincinnati is for this game. The guess here is not particularly, conjuring up memories of Week 17 in 2009.
Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 13.