The Ravens find themselves in a win-&-in situation in Week 17 as they travel to Cincinnati to play the suddenly-plucky Bengals. Can they avoid a repeat of 2017?
RSR staff predict the action here…
Earlier this week John Harbaugh unleashed his inner Al Davis when he said, “Just win baby!” No matter how it looks or feels, just get the DUB!
The Ravens opened as 13 ½ point favorites. Now, a point or two has been shaved off that number depending upon the Vegas Sports Book. The number look just about right but the game will never feel that close.
- Lamar Jackson had one of his worst games of the season v. Cincinnati. He was 19 of 37 for 180 yards, 2 scores and a pick. If the Bengals defense could catch, Lamar would have had at least 3 interceptions. It was pretty ugly. He had just 3 yards rushing on two carries, both career lows. He will flip the script this time around. Lamar will throw for 210 yards and post a passer rating of 120+. He’ll also run the ball for 70 yards before exiting the game early in the fourth quarter. Fans will clamor for Lamar to stay in the game to eclipse the 1,000 yard total for the second consecutive season. John Harbaugh won’t give in to the temptation.
- JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards will combine for 140 yards while Justice Hill adds another 30 in relief.
- Sam Koch’s consecutive game streak of 239 will end due to COVID-19 but his replacement Johnny Townsend won’t be called upon until the fourth quarter. He’ll punt just once for 44 yards and it will hem in the Bengals at their own 13.
- The Ravens play a little loose on defense and look for Tee Higgins to have a big game. He’ll haul in 8 passes from Brandon Allen for 120 yards and a touchdown. AJ Green will also reel in a scoring toss from Allen in the fourth quarter. It will be his last as a Bengal.
- Allen throws for 260 yards against the conservative Wink Martindale defense, more than half of which comes in the fourth quarter.
- Ravens barely cover the spread but the outcome is never in doubt.
Ravens 38, Bengals 25
In other games…
- The Bills knock the Dolphins out of the postseason picture
- The Titans innihilate the Texans
- The Colts earn a playoff berth
- Mason Rudolph throws 3 picks and is sacked twice by Myles Garrett in an easy Browns win
- The Giants will beat the Cowboys but they won’t get the help from the Eagles that they need. The WFT’s defensive front will destroy the Eagles O-line. I’m concerned for Jalen Hurts and he will hurt after this one.
- And last (prediction) but not least, the Ravens will play the Titans in Nashville on Saturday night.
– Baltimore will not be taking Cincinnati lightly. The Bengals have already wrecked the Ravens’ playoff hopes once, in the 2017 regular-seaon finale.
— The Ravens lead the NFL with 177.8 yards rushing per game. That dominant running attack has paved the way for their four-game winning streak. The Bengals will be determined to stop the run but the Ravens will wear them down. Look for the Ravens to amass close to 200 yards rushing for the fourth time n five games.
— The Ravens had six sacks last week against the Giants, including sacks on three-straight plays in the fourth quarter. Look for Baltimore to dial up the pressure on Bengals quarterback Brandon Allen, who has been efficient subbing for the injured Joe Burrow. Allen does a good job releasing the ball quickly so he should be able to minimize some of the damage from the Ravens’ pass rush.
— The Ravens can earn a trip to the postseason for a third consecutive year with a victory. They have the veteran leadership to avoid a major letdown.
Ravens 34 Bengals 17
Cincinnati have found new life late in the season, with wins over Pittsburgh & Houston. The December version of the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens, however, are a different animal. Jackson has his eyes on the prize, and the veteran defense is finally getting healthy at the right time.
— Wink plays it a bit vanilla early, to see what Allen & Co have in mind. After a couple annoyingly long drives that end in field goals though, he dials it up & confuses & harasses the young QB for the rest of the day. The Ravens sack Allen four times (Matt Judon, Chuck Clark, Calais Campbell, & Patrick Queen), and intercept him twice (Marcus Peters, Queen).
— Now that he’s shown impressive hands on big plays twice recently, Greg Roman makes it a point to get Gus Edwards involved in the passing game. Gus catches three passes for 45 yards and a TD to go along with 12 carries for 85 yards.
— Jackson is focused & efficient, throwing the TD to Gus & another to Mark Andrews while going 18-for-22 and 215 yards, and adding 60 on the ground. Tyler Huntley again makes a mop-up duty appearance.
Around the league, things go like this: Buffalo stomps the Fitz-less ‘Fins, Cleveland beats the resting Steelers, the Titans take care of the Texans, & the Colts easily handle the Jags. As you can see if you play around with ESPN’s Playoff Machine, this sends the Ravens to Tennessee in Round 1 for the next step in the Revenge Tour.
Ravens 34 Bengals 16
This game is obviously quite similar to the awful defeat that knocked Baltimore out of the playoffs a few years back. For the Ravens, the mission is simple: beat the Bengals. Cincinnati is not as strong a side as they were in that last matchup, but they have been playing well.
– Baltimore will get off to a slower start offensively than we’re used to in December, but they will come around in the second half, riding the run. J.K. Dobbins stars yet again, with two TDs and over 100 yards from scrimmage. Lamar Jackson adds another rushing TD and tops 50 yards.
– Marquise Brown stays hot in the red zone, catching Jackson’s lone passing score of the game. Mark Andrews leads all receivers, as usual, and gets near 100 yards with a few big plays.
– Defensively, Baltimore will force two turnovers, including a Marcus Peters interception that sets the Ravens up with good field position to pull away in the third quarter.
Ravens 31 Bengals 20
Week 17. Against the Bengals. Win and you’re in. Where have I heard this before?
– Lamar Jackson has been unstoppable in December in his career and Sunday doesn’t change that. I think we’ll see some drives similar to that opening drive last week against New York.
– Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews both find the end zone, while Devin Duvernay takes a jet sweep handoff in for six for his first offensive touchdown of his career.
– However, don’t sleep on Cincinnati. They’ve won back to back games with two different QBs, beating Pittsburgh with Ryan Finley (136 total yards, 2 TD) and Houston with Brandon Allen (371 pass yards, 2 TD). They’ve also surprisingly found an effective running game in recent weeks behind Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine. The two backs have combined for 257 yards on the ground and three TDs in the last two weeks. Regardless, I think the Ravens get the job done and secure a playoff spot.
– Looking elsewhere, I think Buffalo takes care of Miami as it looks like they won’t rest their starters as they aim to lock up the AFC’s second seed, Cleveland takes down Pittsburgh who will be without Big Ben, and Tennessee and Indy both win their games. This scenario would boot the Dolphins out of the playoffs and give the Ravens the #5 seed and a playoff rematch with the Titans.
Ravens 27 Bengals 17
The Ravens are expecting a tough game on Sunday – and they should be. The Bengals have been playing their best football the last couple of weeks. They have played spoiler before in Week 17 and would love to do it again. However, the Ravens are playing even better football, and appear to be the hottest team in the league right now. That hot streak will continue on Sunday.
– Lamar Jackson will continue to impress running for 75 yards and passing for over 200 yards. He will rush for one touchdown and throw for two.
– J.K. Dobbins may have his workload reduced a little bit this week but he will still rush for a touchdown.
– Gus Edwards will also have a rushing touchdown.
– Dez Bryant and Mark Andrews will be the recipients of Lamar’s passing touchdowns.
– Calais Campbell will hit his stride after getting healthy again. He will have one sack and batted pass at the line of scrimmage.
– Matt Judon has hit his peak this season and will have another sack.
– Tyus Bowser will continue to drive his price range up with another interception.
Ravens 38 Bengals 16
This game will not be close. We are done seeing the Ravens lose winnable games that are must win. Lamar is throwing for three TD and Dobbins will be rushing for two.
I’m a little concerned with the Bengals having a QB that the Ravens have little film on, but Wink’s blitzes have a habit of making young QBs make mistakes.
Ravens 34 Bengals 10