For the first time, the Cincinnati Bengals will clash with the Baltimore Ravens in the postseason. A week after playing in Cincinnati, the Ravens will travel back to Paycor Stadium for an AFC North Wild Card matchup.
As the Bengals are hoping to make another deep postseason run led by Joe Burrow, the Ravens' quarterback situation is looking dim. Cincinnati doesn't need to make the mistake of overlooking Baltimore, but the Bengals' chances of advancing to the divisional round are high.
Bengals should push win streak to nine with Wild Card victory over Ravens
Lamar Jackson has been out with a PCL sprain since Week 13 and has not practiced since then. Although the Ravens were hoping to have Jackson back in time for the playoffs, it'll be Tyler Huntley who will be tasked with leading Baltimore's offense instead of third-stringer Anthony Brown.
Huntley has been battling right shoulder tendinitis that caused him to be sidelined last week, but he was a limited participant in Thursday's practice and got some throws off. Still, the Bengals have the advantage as Huntley certainly won't be at 100 percent in time for Sunday. Even before getting injured, Huntley wasn't able to match the success that he had last season filling in for Jackson.
In Week 18, Baltimore's defense held Cincinnati to only three points in the second half after allowing 24 in the first half. After the game, Burrow took accountability for the offense's shaky finish and said, "I missed throws I usually make, but I won't miss those again." Considering how he performed in the playoffs last year, there's reason to believe what Burrow said.
The Bengals offense should be able to hold off a pesky Ravens defense that features Roquan Smith, who finished with a season-high 16 total tackles last week. After all, Cincinnati managed to still win even without recording a touchdown in the second half.
This will be a physical matchup, but the momentum lies with the Bengals. The team is still feeling slighted after the league changed the rule for determining tiebreakers. Along with that, Cincinnati accused Baltimore of playing dirty and taking cheap shots last weekend, so expect the Bengals to come out with a fire lit under their feet.
There's a reason why the Bengals are the back-to-back AFC North Champions, not the Ravens. It's time for Cincinnati to send Baltimore home for the second straight week.