It's week 17 of the 2012 NFL Season, but the season is not over for either the Baltimore Ravens or Cincinnati Bengals as both will be heading into the playoffs after their matchup on Sunday. Baltimore will travel to Cincinnati for the regular season finale with the Ravens playing for seeding and the Bengals essentially playing for nothing as they will be the six seed no matter what.
If not for Baltimore's victory last week against the New York Giants, this game would have been for the AFC North Division title, but the Ravens locked that up with their win. These two teams are very evenly matched on the offensive side of the football, as Baltimore has the 15th ranked total offense and Cincinnati ranks 20th. The Ravens are coming off of a very impressive offensive performance against the Giants however, as it was one of the more consistent games for Baltimore of the season and really seemed to be clicking, but the question will be if the Ravens can take that show on the road. Another important thing to watch for will be if Pro Bowl G Marshal Yanda plays, as he would surely benefit from a week of rest to help his recently injured ankle, and the best Baltimore can do is get the three seed with a win and a Patriots loss. I suspect Bobbie Williams will play in place of Yanda, as Yanda's health for the playoffs is more important than a three seed in my opinion.
Although the offenses are very similar in regards to their ranks in total offense, the defenses are much more separate as Cincinnati sports the sixth best total defense in the NFL, while Baltimore ranks 20th. If Yanda doesn't play, it will be interesting to see how well the Ravens offensive line plays as the Bengals rank second in the league in sacks per game with 3.1. Baltimore's defense will have to find a way to slow down All-World wide receiver AJ Green who seems to gain 100 yards every game with a touchdown, and all of that with defenses knowing he is going to get the ball. The Ravens will also have to deal with the resurgent Benjarvis Green-Ellis, who has rushed for a 100+ yards in four of his last six games, and has been a huge factor in the Bengals second half hot streak.
It will be interesting to see with both teams who they send out there on Sunday, as quite honestly neither team is playing for much, but Ravens Coach John Harbaugh stated earlier this week that Baltimore is playing to win the game.
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