Christmas is over. But, the Cincinnati Bengals can still play the Grinch with Baltimore’s hopes for the playoffs. It’s do-or-die.
There’s nothing like a nice win to make things seem cozy and warm during the playoff months. When the Bengals knocked off the Detroit Lions to end their postseason aspirations, it was something fans wanted but were unsure about. After all, they were coming to town with Marvin Jones and he was ready to show Bengals brass what a mistake they made. But, with a little luck (and help from some Big Uglies), the Bengals pulled it off. Now, it’s time to play The Grinch Who Stole the Ravens’ Playoffs in Week 17.
It’s not as far-fetched as you may think. The Bengals actually played a sound game against the Lions, last week. Now, the scenario turns to making the same moves in the season finale with the Ravens. Okay, let’s be realistic. There’s a vast difference between Baltimore and Detroit. Any football aficionado can see that.
The Bengals will be facing a Ravens team that has one of the best defenses in the league. Compared to what the Lions threw at the O-line in Week 16, things will be vastly different.
Time for redemption
More from Bengals News
- 6 Bengals whose stock significantly rose in preseason game vs Cardinals
- 7 winners and 7 losers from Bengals preseason opener vs. Cardinals
- Jackson Carman winning LG job isn’t a given after Bengals preseason opener
- Denzel Ward wants to flex on Bengals WRs in 2022
- Scouting the enemy: Bengals preseason opener chat with Raising Zona
This was supposed to be the Bengals’ year. It was filled with expectation and hope of better things and possibly a grand send-off for Marvin Lewis. But, the whole thing was jacked from the start. The season opener was spoiled by…the Ravens.
Yes, the same team that has its sights set on the playoffs did a number on the Bengals. Week 1 was the beginning of a nightmare that saw Cincy lose two in a row. Baltimore gave the stripes a 20-0 beatdown and set the stage for a ton of head scratching.
Turnovers played a huge part in the loss at Paul Brown Stadium. The Ravens slapped Andy Dalton and the Bengals around for five turnovers. It was one of those games that fans would like to forget. And the players really can’t. Dalton has fond memories of that embarrassing moment in time.
"“Yeah, obviously you can’t turn the ball over, and I did that way too much in the first game. It hurts you. Turnovers decide the game. For us, we didn’t get much production, and the turnovers didn’t help.”"
That was with Ken Zampese as the offensive coordinator. This time, the burden shifts to Bill Lazor. Dalton has looked comfortable under Lazor’s guidance. But, that doesn’t promise an error-free game. It has to be a total team effort if they want to win the rematch.
It starts with the line
Okay, I promised I wouldn’t go overboard with the O-line thing. But, it all starts up front with the protection. In that first game, the Ravens made a mockery of the Bengals’ offensive line. Dalton was harassed and flustered all day. In the end, Baltimore sacked Andy five times. And who was leading the charge? Why, Terrell Suggs, of course.
When the Bengals put in their bid to relieve the Ravens of their playoff hopes, it has to be done with Suggs being contained. Lazor and Co. will have to find ways to shut him down and keep tabs on where he’s at.
To be honest, Dalton will be facing serious pressure from Dean Pees and the Ravens defense. So, the confidence and play of the O-line will be on display for the world to see.
Big time stakes
This is not a game that the Bengals want to be flat for. The Ravens are well aware that this is a huge matchup. If the Bengals allow the Ravens to get the W, Baltimore is in. If they play with intensity and embrace the role of spoiler, the Ravens will need help from other teams to make the dance.
Defensive tackle Brandon Williams summed it up.
"“Now we’ve got one more game to wrap it up. It’s a big game; pretty much lets us know if we’re going to be on the couch next week or on the field. We definitely don’t want to be on the couch.”"
It’s all on the line for Cincinnati’s AFC North rivals. Christmas may be over, but the Bengals can still play the Grinch and snatch the Ravens’ dream of being in the playoffs.