Kickoff Time: 1:00 PM Eastern
While the Cincinnati Bengals did beat eventual Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens last year, it was in Week 17 when the Ravens, who had already clinched the AFC North title and with it a playoff berth, chose to rest the majority of their starters after a series or two. When the two teams met in the 2012 season opener, however, the Bengals were blown out to the tune of 44-13.
The Ravens have undergone a great many roster changes since that Super Bowl win, but the end result might actually be a stronger team in 2013 than in 2012. At the same time, however, the Bengals have continued to improve since that blowout loss in Week 1 of last season and as long as they handle the draft correctly, should be one of the more balanced teams in the NFL when they finally take the field in September.
The Bengals have a chance to make a statement this season—that there's a changing of the guard underway in the AFC North, and there's no better time to do it than in Week 17 with the AFC North potentially on the line. And how do they do this? Bring pressure to Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, run the ball better than their Ravens counterparts and complete the big passes while preventing Baltimore from connecting on theirs. This should be easier at home for the Bengals this year than on the Ravens' home turf, even in what could be a very high-stakes situation.
Prediction: Bengals, 17-14