BALTIMORE, MD — It all comes down to one game. After an injury-filled training camp and 15 games filled with plenty of ups and downs, the Ravens find themselves just one win away from the playoffs. If Baltimore defeats the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon, they will be heading to the postseason for the first time since 2014.
There are other ways for the Ravens to make the playoffs but they all rely on others to lose. As long as Baltimore wins they are guaranteed the 5th seed and a trip to Kansas City in the Wild Card round. If the Ravens can not get the job done against Cincinnati, either a Buffalo Bills or Tennessee Titans loss will be enough to earn them a spot in January. The Bills travel to Miami to face the Dolphins, and the Titans host an angry Jaguars team that will most likely not rest their starters. All four games carry Wild Card implications.
Following the games this past holiday weekend, the NFL announced that the week 17 schedule would have some major changes. The Ravens were one of a handful of teams who had their game moved from 1:00 pm to 4:25 pm. This ensures that the Ravens and all of the other AFC Wild Card contenders will play at the same time.
The Ravens have been in this scenario before but it has been a while since the team has been able to close out the year on their home field. The opportunity to clinch a playoff appearance in front of their own fans certainly had the team hopeful for a larger crowd. However, after the time change, it is likely that the game will interfere with the New Year’s Eve plans that some fans made prior to the kickoff time change.
John Harbaugh expressed his frustration with this earlier in the week by saying the NFL didn’t do the team any favors. “It’s kinda tough for the fans,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know what the considerations are at the league office and I don’t really care, other than the fact that I hope our fans are ok with it.”
When it comes to head coaches, Cincinnati has their own issues. Just a few weeks ago Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis announced that he would be steeping away from the team at the end of this season. Lewis has been wearing the headset in Cincinnati for 15 seasons but has failed to win a playoff game in seven tries.
Even if Bengals fans are cheering on this exit, the team is certainly playing hard for their coach. Last week Cincinnati knocked the Detroit Lions out of playoff contention and they would love nothing more than to possibly knock a division opponent out as well. Let’s not forget that Lewis was Baltimore’s Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator from 1996-2001.
Last Meeting: The Ravens opened their 2017 season on the road in Cincinnati with an impressive 20-0 win. In the weeks following that win, the media downplayed the Ravens performance as the Bengals looked like one of the leagues basement dwellers. Even if that ended up being true, a shutout against a division rival should not be overlooked. The Ravens will look to replicate that performance again on Sunday.
Where: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, MD.
When: Saturday, Dec. 23, 4:25 pm
Commentators: Gerry Sandusky, Stan White, Jarrett Johnson
Commentators: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
Notes on the Bengals:
- Since being drafted in 2011, A.J. Green has been a thorn in the Ravens side. In nine career games against Baltimore, Green has racked up 800 yards and six touchdowns on 46 receptions. He has also averaged 169 yards in his last three games at M&T Bank Stadium.
Notes on the Ravens:
- After throwing for 237 yards in Saturday’s win over Indianapolis, Joe Flacco entered the top 25 of all-time passing yards leaders. Currently in his tenth year, Flacco has averaged roughly 3,557 yards a season.
- Undrafted free agent receiver Quincy Adeboyejo was promoted from the practice squad earlier this week. With Jeremy Maclin still questionable, Adeboyejo will get a chance to prove himself after suffering a knee injury in the preseason.
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