The Cincinnati Bengals have already locked up the AFC North this season and are bound for the 2013 NFL Playoffs. While that might make it seem like they have nothing to play for in week 17 of the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens, a divisional rival. However, the Bengals still have something to gain.
Sitting with a 10-5 record, the Bengals could still theoretically gain the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the postseason. With a Bengals win over the Ravens and a loss by the New England Patriots to the Buffalo Bills. The task at hand for Cincy, though, is to grab a win this coming Sunday.
The Ravens came out of the first matchup between these two teams with a 20-17 victory in overtime, a result the Bengals are obviously looking to avoid in week 17. One of the keys to that game and the Bengals’ loss was the poor play of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
Though Dalton saved the game for the Bengals with a last-second Hail Mary touchdown pass to A.J. Green, he was largely ineffective in the loss. He completed only 24 of his 51 passing attempts for just 274 yards and two touchdowns while also getting sacked five times and throwing three interceptions.
While Dalton has disappointed in a similar manner on numerous occasions this season, but his play as of late has been much more positive. Over his last three games, Dalton has thrown for a combined 871 yards, nine touchdowns and—most importantly, hasn’t thrown a single interception.
Coming up against a talented Ravens’ defense, Dalton needs to continue to play at the level that he has in recent weeks. Given how Baltimore’s offense has played lately, the Bengals’ defense should be able to stifle them. However, if Dalton fails to show up gain, Cincinnati could drop to 10-6 and, subsequently, miss out on that first round bye.