With their season on the line, the Cincinnati Bengals will host the 11-4 Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, this time with star rookie wideout A.J. Green in the lineup.
The Bengals have done more than anyone could have imagined this season. Widely considered one of the NFL's worst teams headed into the season, the Bengals have gone 9-6 and are one win away from securing the No. 6 seed in the AFC.
The Ravens, on the other hand, have a legitimate shot of making it to the Super Bowl, but they'll have to iron out their inconsistencies before that can happen.
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
When: Sunday, January 1, 4:15 p.m. ET
Live Streaming Audio: NFL.com Audio Pass ($29.99 for year, $27.99 team specific, $9.99 a month).
Listen: Sirius Satellite Radio
Betting Line: Ravens by 3 (per Bovada)
What's at Stake?
This game has heavy playoff implications.
If the Bengals win, they capture the No. 6 seed. If they lose, they likely will get ousted from the postseason and end their promising season on a down note.
As for the Ravens, this game is not only for the AFC North, it's also for the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a first-round bye in the playoffs. If they lose and the Pittsburgh Steelers win, they drop to the No. 5 seed and have to play in the Wild Card Round.
Ravens Injury Report (USA Today)
Dannelle Ellerbe, LB, Questionable
Billy Cundiff, K, Questionable
Anthony Allen, RB, Questionable
Marshall Yanda, G, Doubtful
Cary Williams, CB, Doubtful
Bengals Injury Report (USA Today)
Clint Boling, G, Questionable
Dontay Moch, LB, Questionable
What They're Saying
Said Ravens defensive end Cory Redding, via The Washington Post:
It’s about us, man. It’s not about them. We need to get this win so we can get what we’re looking for: a bye week and home-field advantage.
If the Ravens win on Sunday and the New England Patriots lose to the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens capture home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
When the Ravens faced the Bengals in Week 11, a 31-24 victory, the Bengals were without star rookie receiver A.J. Green.
Said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, via CBSSports.com:
I call him the leading rebounder in the National Football League. He goes up and gets a lot of balls.
After getting selected No. 4 overall in the 2011 NFL draft, Green has lived up to the hype this season, catching 63 balls for 1,031 yards and seven touchdowns.
He'll most certainly be a handful come Sunday.
Key Matchup: Joe Flacco vs. Bengals defense
I've said it once and I'll say it again: quarterback Joe Flacco holds the Ravens' destiny in his own hands.
Flacco has been inconsistent this season. When he plays to his potential, the Ravens can beat anyone in the AFC. When he doesn't, they fall to such teams as the Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks.
The Bengals are allowing a respectable 19.9 points per game this season and are 12th in pass defense. Flacco can beat them, but if he's inconsistent the Bengals have a good enough defense to severely limit the Ravens' scoring output.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Bengals 20