Week 17 Preview: Ravens vs. Bengals

| December 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

Baltimore Ravens (8-7)ravens

At

Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)

Sunday at 1pm, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH

Line: Bengals -6

Week 17 in the NFL can sometimes be meaningless as most, if not all, playoff spots have already been clinched and seeds have been set. However, this year is far different as 13 of the 16 games on this week’s schedule have some sort of ramification regarding the final playoff picture, which is exactly what the NFL wants.

One of those games is in Cincinnati as the Ravens need a win and some help to make the playoffs while the Bengals, who are already in the playoffs, can get a first round bye with a win and a Patriots loss. To think that the Bengals will rest their starters at all is likely incorrect. Something also tells me they would love nothing more than preventing a Ravens playoff berth.

The Ravens clearly aren’t the better team but they are definitely the more desperate team. Will playing with a sense of desperation be enough to get the win? Here is my take on the game:

Ravens offense vs. Bengals defense

I am a very unabashed Joe Flacco supporter and apologist but there is no way to sugar coat it, he played awful on Sunday. And, if he plays that way this Sunday the Ravens have absolutely no chance of winning.  I do think his knee was bothering him more than he and the Ravens led us to believe. We can only hope it improves enough to not be a major factor on Sunday.

This Bengals defense is far better than the Patriots defense so, even with Flacco at full strength, they pose problems for the Ravens. They could really have a field day if Flacco is not close to full strength.  With all that being said, the Ravens have no choice but to play Flacco and hope. Unless he absolutely can’t play there really is no QB decision to be had as they certainly don’t want their playoff fate in the hands of Tyrod Taylor.

I am not sure there is much the offense can do to have a tremendous amount of success and generate a lot of points but not turning the ball over and capitalizing in the red zone would be a good start.  Hopefully Flacco is healthy enough and “big game Joe” shows up. The Ravens certainly need this to be the case.

Advantage: Bengals

Bengals offense vs. Ravens defense

This will be the one area where the Ravens have a chance to win the game as the defense is more than capable of stepping up and shutting down Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. Make no bones about it, there is a ton of talent on the Bengals offense but Andy Dalton has been Jekyll and Hyde all season. If the bad Dalton shows up, the Ravens have a shot of winning this game.

We saw the Ravens defense hold one of the best offenses in football in the Lions to just 16 points. They will need to put pressure on Andy Dalton, shut down Gio Bernard and The Law Firm, and create turnovers if they want to have a chance of winning. Let’s just hope Dalton plays like he did in the first meeting between these two teams.

Advantage: Bengals

Special Teams

I pretty much can say something like “see last week’s analysis” when it comes to special teams. Despite missing a field goal last week, Justin Tucker is a beast and the Ravens special teams is one of the best in the league. Jacoby Jones will need some big returns to change field position and give the offense a short field to play on. I have a feeling he not only does this but also takes one the distance for a touchdown.

Look for Jones and Tucker to play a prominent role in this game.

Advantage: Ravens

Prediction

The Steelers and Giants have each won two Super Bowls in the last 10 years yet they have not consistently made the playoffs like the Ravens have – it’s almost a rite of passage to see the Ravens in the playoffs. The Ravens streak of making the playoffs has made them one of the best and most consistent franchises in football and it would be weird not seeing them play past week 17. However, I think this great streak will come to an end on Sunday.

The Bengals would love nothing more than to do their part to be the spoiler for the Ravens. They are undefeated at home and quite frankly are just the more talented team on both sides of the ball. The Ravens have proved me wrong several times and I hope they do again this time, but I just don’t see it happening.

Bengals 24 Ravens 17

Follow Marco on twitter @mromanell and Southbmore.com @southbmore1

 

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About the Author:

I have spent my entire 30 years living in Maryland and I love everything about this city. Despite the bad reputation the city has, Baltimore will always be a special place to me and I love living here. There is nothing better then Sunday afternoons at M&T Bank Stadium and summer nights at Camden Yards when the Yard is packed. You can find me all over the city so don't hesitate to share your opinion of me good or bad. Who knows, if you see me out maybe I will buy you a Natty Boh. Lets go Ravens and Lets go O's!!! Follow me on Twitter at @MRomanell.
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