EARLY BIRD: Ravens can expect motivated Bengals

EARLY BIRD: Ravens can expect motivated Bengals
December 25, 2013, 7:00 am
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(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

EARLY BIRD: Waking up on Christmas with the Ravens.

Morning buzz: Merry Christmas, happy holidays, as the Ravens have the day off.

When they return on Thursday:

The Ravens will ramp up preparations for their crucial regular season finale against the Bengals.

What the weekend will bring: A serious challenge.

Don’t expect a letdown Sunday from the Bengals. They are chasing the highest seed possible and want to head into the playoffs with momentum. They have won the AFC North, but could be seeded anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4.

The Bengals believe they can finally make some postseason noise. They have not won a playoff game since 1991, the longest current drought of any NFL franchise. The last time the Bengals won a playoff game, wide receiver A. J. Green was two years old. Head coach Marvin Lewis was a linebacker coach at the University of Pittsburgh.

Lewis has a 0-4 postseason record as a head coach. That is one reason why the Bengals have not really celebrated winning the AFC North.

“We don’t need any pats on the back yet,” Lewis said Tuesday. “We’ve got a long way to go.”

The Bengals are 7-0 at home, joining the Patriots and Saints as the only NFL teams unbeaten at home. That is still another reason why the Bengals will be motivated Sunday, with chance to finish 8-0 at home.

“It’s a difficult thing to do, and we haven’t done it yet,” Lewis said.

The Bengals will try to accomplish that Sunday at the Ravens’ expense. On Christmas, the Ravens can rest. On Thursday, it’s back to work.

Morning thought: Ravens nose tackle Haloti Ngata, on forgetting Sunday’s loss to the Patriots, “When you have a bad game like that, it’s not that hard. If you think about it too much, it’s going to ruin the next game for you.”

Hitting the Links

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- Tucker surprised by outpouring of support following missed FG

- Harbaugh says game vs. Bengals creates "one-game season"