Five questions for Ravens at Bengals

Five questions for Ravens at Bengals
December 27, 2013, 10:00 am
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Harbaugh and the Ravens only focused on Bengals, not other games


What: Ravens (8-7) at Bengals (10-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

TV: CBS (Ravens Postgame Live immediately following the game on CSN)

The situation: This could be it for the 2013 Ravens. Even if they win, they need either the Dolphins or Chargers to lose to make the playoffs. If the Ravens lose, they will need the Chargers, Dolphins and Steelers all to lose. Not likely. So with the Ravens’ season on the line, here are five questions that need answers.

1. Can the Ravens’ offense score enough to win this game?

The Ravens have one touchdown over their last eight quarters. That is especially embarrassing with tight end Dennis Pitta back in the lineup. The Bengals are averaging 40.5 points over their last four home games, and they are undefeated (7-0) at home. The Ravens can’t rely on field goals and defense and expect to win this game. This is a huge spot for the offense and coordinator Jim Caldwell.

2. Will Joe Flacco deliver a clutch performance?

Money time is usually Flacco time. However, he had a bad game last week playing on his sprained left knee. Flacco will wear the knee brace again, but he is obviously feeling better, not even listed on this week’s injury report. The Ravens need Flacco to play like he did during last season’s playoffs. If he does, they can win this game. Another stinker from Flacco, and the Ravens lose.

[MORE: The Ravens short-yardage offense goes nowhere]

3. Which Bengals team will show up?

The Bengals are playing for playoff seeding, but they have already clinched the AFC North, and will play at least one home playoff game. The Bengals are not as desperate as the Ravens. Sure, the Bengals will play their starters and try to win. But if the Ravens play like the hungrier team, it could make the difference.

4. Have the Ravens recovered from the debacle against the Patriots?

The Ravens say they have put that 41-7 loss behind them. But some defeats are more devastating than others. The Ravens can’t afford a hangover. But you will know after the first quarter if the Ravens have recovered, or if they are still wounded.

5. Will the Ravens’ season end?

That’s the bottom line. The Ravens have never missed the playoffs in John Harbaugh’s first five seasons as head coach. They are defending Super Bowl champions. Either they make the playoffs and get new life, or Sunday will end a disappointing season, especially if the Ravens lose and finish 8-8.