The Baltimore Ravens will be facing the Cincinnati Bengals in their season finale on Sunday, New Years Eve at 4:25pm at M&T Bank Stadium. The team is facing a must-win in order to guarantee themselves a playoff spot at the 5th seed in the AFC with a 9-6 record. The perfect game to end the year with a bang!!!
- If the Ravens win, they are automatically in the playoffs in the 5th seed. End of scenarios. Easy right?
There are other scenarios in which the Ravens can make it in the playoffs if they lose to the Bengals. Here is where some other team watching may be in order:
- If the Tennessee Titans lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars, OR
- If the Buffalo Bills lose to the Miami Dolphins.
The Ravens will be at the 5th seed in the playoffs:
- if the Ravens win and both the Titans and Bills lose, OR
- if all three teams lose.
The Ravens will make the 6th seed if:
- The Ravens lose and either the Bills or Titans win.
If the Ravens win on Sunday, this will be the first time the team has reached the playoffs since 2014. They have a 5-2 at home winning record this season. Since the bye-week, the Ravens offense have come back strong. Flacco’s interception rate dropped, receivers were catching more difficult plays and making touchdowns. Even the running backs were spending lots of time in the end zone with touchdowns. Terms like “January Joe” have been thrown around. That beautiful, one week of rest increased the players’ abilities to the max! Mike Wallace has been the leading receiver for more than six consecutive games, running backs Alex Collins and Javorius Allen has made rushing touchdowns and the offensive line has limited sacks. The defense is one of the deadliest in the NFL with 22 interceptions and 40 sacks. They will be working overtime to create a lot of turnovers on the Bengals offense. The entire team must come together to secure their playoff chances. There is no such thing as a guaranteed win. In 2013, the Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs in Week 17. Although a loss from the Bengals will not knock the Ravens out of the playoffs this season, a loss will force the team to rely on the record of two other teams.
The Raves face a division rival who has missed their playoff chances with a 6-9 record. The Bengals will be attempting to wreck the Ravens playoff hopes. After dealing with Week 1’s 20-0 shut-out loss, the Bengals will be wanting some redemption. They are also dealing with losing their head coach Marvin Lewis after the end of the season. This will be their opportunity to go out with a bang.
They are still a threat to the Ravens with wide receiver A.J. Green, running backs Giovanni Bernard and Joe Mixon. Green has always been a sore spot with the Ravens secondary. He was limited to less than 100 yards during Week 1 but he was covered by Jimmy Smith. Now, the team will be putting either cornerback Marlon Humphrey, Brandon Carr or Maurice Canady on Green. These rookies will be put to the test. Joe Mixon has a season 530 rushing yards and four touchdowns although none of those touchdowns occurred in Week 1. Giovanni Bernard is averaging 4.3 yards per carry with only 406 rushing yards. This is the time for the famous Ravens front line defense to put a stop to all rushing plays.
The Bengals defense may be without one threat: linebacker Vontaze Burfict. According to an article from Baltimorebeatdown.com, Burfict has been ruled out due to a shoulder injury. He was originally listed as doubtful on the teams’ final injury report but was downgraded.
The Ravens must play their hearts out by creating turnovers, eliminating big plays from the offensive and touchdowns. They are a proven team that has done it in the past. Now, they have to keep doing it.