Ravens vs. Bengals Regular Season Finale PreviewPosted on December 28, 2013 by Brenden McLaughlin
Simply put; Ravens win + Miami OR San Diego loss = Playoffs.
Week 10: James Ihedigbo put the entire fan base on a roller coaster. Beyond the last play of regulation, Ihedigbo played a great game snagging two interceptions, one being a clutch fourth quarter pick. The Bengals get the ball back and end up with one final shot at the end zone from 51 yards. Dalton chucks up a prayer that ends up falling short of the end zone, ricochets off of a Bengal helmet and is tipped up in the air by Ihedigbo, right into the hands of AJ Green to tie the game at 17. Cincinnati had all of the momentum on their side going into overtime and were looking to push the Ravens’ record to a disappointing 3-6 and their third straight AFC North defeat. The Bengals advance the ball into Ravens’ territory where they are eventually faced with a fourth-and-two situation. Being the genius he is, Marvin Lewis decides to run a swing pass to Giovani Bernard that is immediately sniffed out by the Baltimore D and ends with none other than James Ihedigbo ending the play for a loss of 11, giving the Ravens momentum and great field position. Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense move the ball down the field to give Justin Tucker a chance at a 46 yard game winner—and Justin Tucker does Justin Tucker things.
What History Tells Us:
Andy Dalton doesn’t play particularly well against the Ravens as he owns a 4-7 touchdown to interception ratio, has completed only 53% of his passes, and has only defeated the Ravens once—week 17 last year when the Baltimore rested their starters in Cincinnati. The Bengals have been perfect at home this season, but before this year Andy Dalton had an 8-8 record at in Cincinnati.
20 points is the magic number for the winning team. In the five meetings since Dalton took over as the Cincinnati signal caller, the losing team has eclipsed the 20 point mark one time—in a 33-24 Ravens’ win in Dalton’s rookie year. This game will be a four quarter struggle for both teams and 20 points will be enough to win the game.
Bulletin Board Material:
Pacman Jones: “If it was my choice, I don’t want Baltimore to make it.”
I know he meant that he just wants to win this game, and that likely means Baltimore won’t make the playoffs. However, if the Ravens do find a way to win, there’s a solid chance they will play the Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium again, and there is not one team in the AFC that wants to play this team in the playoffs. Other than that, neither team will say anything that’s not politically correct. I will say that Coach Harbaugh’s demeanor in his interviews has been very business-like, and there is no doubt in my mind that we will see a different Ravens squad come Sunday.
Dennis Pitta will have a redzone touchdown as the Ravens stop being terrible inside the opponent’s 20 yard line.
Elvis Dumervil will come up big with another multi-sack game. He had 3 in the week 10 meeting.
The Ravens will have a receiver go for over 100 yards. Terence Newman, who played well in the first meeting, grabbing an interception and defending multiple passes, will not play this week.
Jimmy Smith will find a way to silence AJ Green and hold him under 100 yards receiving. Green had 151 yards in week 10, 51 coming from the Hail Mary at the end of regulation.
Why We Win:
I’m going to trust the injury report and say Joe will look healthier this week. He was left off of the report entirely, and the hope is that he will have enough strength in his legs to throw an accurate deep ball. Last week he consistently underthrew routes, and he’s going to look more comfortable in the finale. He will look to attack Dre Kirkpatrick, who entered the season as the Bengals’ fourth string cornerback behind Pacman Jones, Leon Hall and Terence Newman. Hall has been out for the majority of the season and Newman suffered a knee injury in week 14. On the other side of the ball, the Ravens will need to limit the production from AJ Green and Giovani Bernard. This task will be a little easier this week as it looks like the Bengals will be without Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. Both are banged up and haven’t practiced this week. In week 10, Andy Dalton targeted Eifert 10 times, only second in targets to Green, and losing both of tight ends will be a big blow to their normal game plan. The Ravens’ defense had success against this Bengals’ offensive line in the first meeting, sacking Dalton five times, three of those coming from Elvis Dumervil. This game will be low scoring, and the key for the Ravens will be taking care of the ball and not turning it over. If Baltimore is going to win this game, the offense has to play patient and take what Cincy gives them—field position will be key. Baltimore has only scored one touchdown in the past eight quarters, and they need to be disciplined and not press for points where there isn’t opportunity. After last week it’s hard to imagine this team going to the Jungle and winning on the road, but I nobody should be surprised with how this season has gone. In a pressure filled game, give me Joe Flacco over Andy Dalton and a banged up Bengals secondary.