Ravens-Bengals preview

Ravens-Bengals preview
December 29, 2012, 10:30 am
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Harbaugh Exclusive: Ravens fighting for no. 3 seed

Ravens vs. Bengals

at Paul Brown Stadium, 1 p.m. ET

The favorite: Bengals -3.

Last week: Ravens (10-5) beat N.Y. Giants 33-14. Bengals (9-6) beat Pittsburgh Steelers 13-10.

Series: Ravens lead, 19-14.

Last meeting: Ravens won 44-13 on Sept. 10 at home to open the season on Monday Night Football. QB Joe Flacco completed 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards and 2 TDs. RB Ray Rice averaged 6.8 yards per carry and scored 2 TDs and S Ed Reed returned an interception 34 yards for a score.

Burning question: The Ravens have said all week they’ll be playing to win in hopes of moving up to the No. 3 seed, but how much effort will be put forth by the Bengals who are locked in at No. 6 regardless of the outcome?

Keys to victory on offense: Flacco prefers the no-huddle offense, and after last week’s performance there’s no reason to slow it down. DT Geno Atkins is good at getting pressure, and sacks, so the Ravens will have to keep him off-balance and continue having Flacco get rid of the ball quickly with fast-developing routes for his receivers. Sprinkle in Rice and RB Bernard Pierce, both of whom combined for 100-plus rushing performances against the Giants, and that should be enough. The Bengals aren't a high-scoring bunch.

Keys to victory on defense: Bengals QB Andy Dalton has yet to win in three tries vs. his AFC North rival. That’s because he has only thrown 1 TD and 4 INTs in those games and doesn’t have many options outside of WR A.J. Green. Continue to contain Green, who has had just 7 catches for 96 yards in his career vs. Baltimore, get off the field to lessen the chance of more injuries and give Flacco more chances to succeed.  RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis will pound the ball between the tackles to try and slow the pace and give his team the edge in ball control to keep the Ravens' potentially explosive offense off the field. 

Injury report: RAVENS – Questionable: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), G Marshal Yanda (shoulder/knee), WR Anquan Boldin (shoulder), LB Albert McClellan (thigh/shoulder), WR Tandon Doss (ankle), FB Vonta Leach (ankle), DE Arthur Jones (thigh); Probable: LB Ray Lewis (triceps), LB Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), WR Jacoby Jones (ankle), DE Pernell McPhee (thigh), TE Dennis Pitta (knee), S Bernard Pollard (ribs), S Ed Reed (shoulder), CB Jimmy Smith (abdomen), LB Terrell Suggs (biceps).

BENGALS – Out: K Mike Nugent (calf); Questionable: CB Jason Allen (hamstring), CB Terence Newman (groin); Probable: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (illness), CB Adam Jones (hamstring), S Reggie Nelson (shoulder).