Preview: Ravens Battle Bengals in Regular Season Finale
The Baltimore Ravens are set to travel to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals in the regular season finale. Due to the NFL’s decision to call last Monday nights Bengals-Bills game a “no contest”. The Bengals have been awarded to the AFC north division crown before the Ravens and Bengals even take the field on Sunday. But, while the Ravens can’t win the division with a win on Sunday they still have a lot to play for. Here are the scenarios surrounding the Ravens playoff seeding, as well as a scenario that can give the Ravens a home playoff game even without winning the division.
Quarterback Tyler Huntley is expected to make his fifth straight start in place of Lamar Jackson (knee) who has been ruled out for the fifth straight week. Huntley was limited in practice all week as he dealt with tendinitis in his throwing shoulder, as well as a wrist injury. Huntley has been listed as questionable. If Huntley can’t play, undrafted rookie Anthony Brown will make his first career NFL start. The Ravens also elevated practice squad quarterback Brett Hundley to be the third active quarterback for Sunday.
Cornerbacks Brandon Stephens (illness) and Kevon Seymour (finger/illness) did not practice Friday and are both listed as questionable. Fellow cornerback Marcus Peters (calf) and defensive end Calais Campbell (knee) who both missed the last two weeks, both practiced this week and both are listed as questionable.
The Bengals only have one player with an injury designation, cornerback Eli Apple (neck) is listed as questionable, but is expected to play.
Gus Edwards had one of his worst rushing games in his career last Sunday night against the Steelers. Edwards rushed for just two yards on three carries. Head Coach John Harbaugh was not pleased after the game with Edwards lack of carries saying “I wasn’t happy about that, in all honesty,” Harbaugh said. “Gus should have played more – there’s no doubt about it. That was something that … We should have had him out there more, and [there’s] really no excuse for that.” On the season Edwards has averaged five yards per carry, but the Ravens have often failed to give the ball to Edwards in short yardage situations, and in the red zone.
Since returning from a torn ACL suffered in 2021, Edwards has played in eight games rushing for 417 yards on 83 carries, and adding three touchdowns. Splitting carries with Dobbins is one thing, but only giving three carries to a top level back is inexcusable. The Ravens need to lean heavily on their backs on Sunday and into the playoffs, and that includes getting Gus Edwards more then three carries.
Tyler Boyd very well might be the most underrated wide receiver in the NFL. Out shined by teammates Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, Boyd continues put up solid numbers while being the likely third option at receiver for Joe Burrow and the Bengals offense. So far this season Boyd has 53 receptions for 711 yards and five touchdowns, while averaging just over 13 yards per catch. The Ravens held Boyd to just three catches for 32 yards in their week five meeting.
The Ravens are no stranger to the threat that Tyler Boyd is. In thirteen career games against the Ravens Boyd has 47 receptions for 636 yards and three touchdowns. Many Ravens fans might remember his first touchdown scored against the Ravens in 2017. Boyd’s 49-yard touchdown with just 44 seconds remaining to cap off a five catch 91 yard day, would seal a Bengals victory and knock the Ravens out of the playoffs in the last week of the 2017 season.
While the Ravens will be focused on slowing down Chase and Higgins, Boyd will be just another weapon on this Bengals offense that the Ravens will need to keep a close eye on this Sunday.
The Ravens defeated the Bengals back in week five behind an efficient day by Lamar Jackson and a strong rushing attack headlined by Jackson and running back J.K. Dobbins. The story of the game though was the defense, that sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow three times, and most importantly limited the Bengals the passing game from making any big plays.
The Ravens will need a similar recipe this Sunday if they hope to keep the game close, and give themselves a chance to win in the end. With Huntley banged up and the lack of a vertical passing game, the Ravens must rely on Dobbins and Edwards to move this Ravens offense down the field, and keeping Burrow and the Bengals offense off of it.
Even with so much stacked against them, the Ravens continue to fight week-to-week and that fight should continue this Sunday against an AFC north rival. The Ravens defense has improved even more since their first meeting with the Bengals and because of that the game should remain close for most of the game. The lack of a passing game by the Ravens and Tyler Huntley not being 100% will be the difference however. Points will be hard to come by for the Ravens making it hard for them to keep up with the Bengals and their elite offense. Ravens fall short in week 18 losing by a final of 27-17.
Line: Baltimore -9.0
All-Time Record: Baltimore leads series 28-25
Last Meeting: 10/9/2022 Baltimore 19-17