1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Bengals

1st and 10: Ten predictions for Ravens-Bengals
December 29, 2012, 10:00 pm
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1. Ray Lewis will not play.

The Ravens activated Ray Lewis from injured reserve this week, but most thought that was simply a procedural move to make him eligible for the playoffs. Then they listed him as probable for the Bengals game. That could be nothing more than gamesmanship. Lewis might benefit from a light return to action, but it seems more harm than good could come from even a cameo appearance. Coach John Harbaugh flatly said last Sunday that Lewis would not play against Cincinnati, and we believe him.

2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will not have 20 carries ...

The Bengals are locked into their No. 6 seed slot. The last thing they want is their 1,000-yard running back hurt before the playoffs. Look for the Law Firm to get some work and then shut it down as he rests up for the playoffs.

3. ... and neither will Ray Rice.

The Ravens still have a chance at the No. 3 seed, and the Ravens insist they are playing to win. But they want Rice healthy for the playoffs, and rookie Bernard Pierce has proved to be a reliable backup. Rice, Pierce and Anthony Allen will all be involved in the running game.

4. Anquan Boldin will play....

Boldin is the Ravens' leading receiver with 65 catches for 921 yards. He is listed as questionable with a bruised shoulder, but is also tough as nails and always wants to be on the field when the ball is snapped.

5. ... and so will Tyrod Taylor.

The Ravens haven't used their backup quarterback this year nearly as much as they implied throughout the preseason that they might. Joe Flacco has remained his durable self, starting every game for the fifth straight year. Taylor has seen a bit of work in wildcat or other sets, and has seen limited mopup duty in routs. But with the playoffs looming, Flacco might sit out part of this game and Taylor will get his chance.

6. The Ravens will intercept Andy Dalton.

Andy Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in both of his seasons as a pro, but he is 0-3 against the Ravens with one touchdown and four interceptions. In the meeting back in Week 1, Dalton threw one interception, which was returned 34 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed.

7. Geno Atkins will have a sack.

As they did last season, the Ravens might try naked bootlegs, rollouts and other schemes to avoid the interior pass rush of Atkins, the ferocious defensive tackle who leads the Bengals with 12.5 sacks. But he can wreak havoc up the middle or off the edge. He had two sacks in the Week 1 game and will have another Sunday.

8. The Ravens will get at least a pair of sacks.

The Bengals have recorded 47 sacks, but they have given up 44, the sixth-most in the league. The Ravens dropped Andy Dalton four times in the Week 1 matchup, with Haloti Ngata recording two of them.

9. There will be a missed field-goal attempt.

The Ravens' Justin Tucker (29-for-31) has had an outstanding rookie season, and the Bengals' Josh Brown is 8-for-9 since replacing injured Mike Nugent. But Sunday's game could be played in a cold breeze, not the most inviting environment for a kicker.

10. Ravens 20, Bengals 16

The Andy Dalton-led Bengals have definitely made big strides. Led by Dalton, the Bengals are in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 30 years. But Dalton has yet to beat the Ravens, and both teams figure to step off the gas at some point to rest up for the playoffs. The Ravens' win over the Giants last week carries over, and they end the reguar season with a win for the 11th time in 13 seasons.