The Cincinnati Bengals will play in their final home game of the regular season against fellow Super Bowl contender and AFC North rival Baltimore Sunday at 1:00 P.M.
The Bengals (9-6) and Ravens (10-5) could face each other in the opening round of the AFC playoffs if the Ravens win and the New England Patriots lose to Miami. If the Bengals are victorious on Sunday they could face either Baltimore, Denver, New England or Houston depending on the outcomes of Sunday’s contests.
Cincinnati is hoping to avoid the pummeling it took in the season opener at Baltimore when the Ravens won 44-13. In that game Joe Flacco and Ray Rice accounted for four touchdowns and Andy Dalton threw two interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown by Ed Reed.
The Ravens started the season 9-2 and seemed to have the AFC North locked up, but three straight losses gave the Bengals and Steelers a window of opportunity. The Bengals tried to take advantage and eliminated Pittsburgh along the way, but a 33-14 win against the Giants gave the Ravens the AFC North crown.
Cincinnati has been a streaky football team that won three straight, lost four in a row, and have now won six of its last seven. The Bengals have lost four straight to the Ravens and haven’t won since Mike Nugent’s five field goals secured a 15-10 victory on Sept. 19, 2010.
Despite the Ravens late season struggles Joe Flacco is having a career season. With 217 yards on Sunday, Flacco would break the 4,000 yard mark for the first time in his career and three touchdowns through the air would tie a career high in touchdowns (25).
Andy Dalton has also been having a career best in his brief NFL career with 3,591 yards passing and 26 touchdowns, but has also set a career worst with 16 interceptions and four fumbles.
Sunday’s game will also feature two running backs that broke the 1,000 yard mark. Ray Rice loves to face the Bengals as he’s accumulated over 1,000 yards in nine games with nine touchdowns. He could tie a career best in touchdowns with three on Sunday and needs 226 yards to tie a career best in yards.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was stifled last week by the Steelers as he was held for 14 yards on 15 carries, but had a successful outing against Baltimore in the first meeting. In his Bengals debut he ran for 91 yards and scored the Bengals lone touchdown. The 1,094 yards are a career best and it’s only the second time he’s broken the century mark, but also fumbled for the first time in his NFL career and did so three times this season.
A.J. Green enters Sunday’s game as one of the top five receivers in the NFL and showed that his rookie season was no fluke. Green has already bested his rookie numbers as he is five catches from 100 this season and is a 176 yards from a 1,500 yard season. He’s also scored 11 touchdowns this season, which is four more than last season.
Usually a stout defense the Ravens have taken a back seat in the division to Cincinnati who boasts two of the NFL’s leading tacklers in Rey Maualuga (112) and Vontaze Burfict (109). The Bengals rank sixth in yards per game (317.5) while the Ravens have fallen to 20th (361.7). Both teams are towards the top in points allowed as Cincinnati has given up just 20.2 per game (8th best) and Baltimore has allowed 21.4 (12th best).
Since the Ravens joined the NFL in 1996 the Bengals are 14-19 against Baltimore, but the Bengals are 9-7 at home in the rivalry.