Week 17 doesn’t get any bigger for the Baltimore Ravens as they take on the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens need to win and have either the Miami Dolphins or San Diego Chargers lose to secure the last Wild Card spot. The Bengals can earn a first round bye with a win and a New England Patriots loss. Needless to say, there’s a lot on the line for both teams. Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios for this game.
The Back and Forth Slugfest: This would be an ideal scenario, especially for all of you who will be watching this game on the television. This is the type of game where neither team is leading by more then seven points. What’s that? Andy Dalton with a big touchdown pass to A.J. Green. Oh, what’s this now? Joe Flacco comes back with a big touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. A game of this importance should go down like that, but will it? More on that later.
The Bad Ravens Road Game: I think this scenario should be mentioned in every Ravens road game by default. They almost all start out the same way too. A couple of stupid penalties combined with a few weird turnovers and before you know it, the Ravens have an uphill climb the rest of the game.
Semi-Laydown Game: The Bengals are already in the playoffs, so a loss wouldn’t kill them. They could still get a first round bye if the Patriots somehow lose at home to the Buffalo Bills. I do believe the Bengals will go in with the intention of playing their starters the whole game, but if important players like Dalton, Green and Giovanni Bernard start getting banged up during the game, you wouldn’t think Cincy would just pull the plug and accept the No. 3 or 4 seed? The No. 2 seed is a little bit of a longshot anyway, so why continue to take the risk if guys start going down?
My prediction is a combination of Bad Ravens Road Game and The Back And Forth Slugfest. The Ravens will start out crappy as they usually do on the road, but they’ll find a way to make it exciting in the end. Will it be enough though? I’m afraid the Ravens will fall just a bit short and the 2013 season will come to an end. Unlike the last game, the Ravens will at least be able to hold their heads high with a valiant effort.
Bengals 23, Ravens 20 (This is always the score for devastating Ravens losses it seems)
Read more from Dan Abeshouse here.