Predictions are hard to make and the one consistent thing about them is how easy it is to be wrong. So, for the last game of the season, here's a bunch of smaller predictions as to what might happen in the Ravens-Bengals game Sunday:
1. Joe Flacco will have a better game, something that's going to help build his confidence heading into the playoffs. The offense and the team will also benefit from that.
2. Ditto for Ray Rice.
3. Torrey Smith should make big plays again, and the Ravens should once more throw him shorter passes that will let the second-year receiver use his speed as a weapon. Smith's great with long passes, but those are hard to hit every time. Get Smith the ball and room to run, and he'll cause a lot of trouble.
4. The defense has kept Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton quiet in their three meetings. It will be interesting to see how much the Bengals show on offense, since this game really means nothing to them. Dalton won't tear up the Ravens' defense.
5. Courtney Upshaw has been making more and more plays in recent weeks, both on special teams and defense. That trend should continue in this contest.
6. Ditto for Corey Graham. He's been a huge help for the defense in this injury-filled season. Coach John Harbaugh has said a few times how much Graham's given the Ravens a boost.
Prediction: Ravens 24, Bengals 20-- Forget all this "game means nothing" stuff; both teams want to win. Some back-ups might get more playing time, but that's to be expected. The Ravens have made it clear that they want to go into the playoffs playing good football. A two-game winning streak after that bad three-game losing skid could really give this team a boost at the end of the regular season.