The Ravens are one of five 10-5 AFC teams that are vying for four available playoff spots. A win at Cincinnati on Sunday would clinch a playoff berth for the Ravens. If they lose to the Bengals, the Ravens would need either the Browns or the Colts to lose in order to make the playoffs. The Ravens would be better-served not relying on outside help; the Browns will host the Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers, while the Colts are facing a Jaguars team that hasn't won since Week 1.
Baltimore is an 11.5-point favorite to win their fifth-straight game over Cincinnati, according to William Hill Sportsbook, with the over/under set at 44.5 points. The Ravens are 9-5-1 against the spread this season and 7-8 on the over/under. The Bengals are 9-6 against the spread 8-7 on the over/under. Click here to see what our CBS Sports NFL experts think will transpire Sunday in "The Jungle".
Before we preview Sunday's AFC North showdown, here's how you can follow the action in real-time.
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The Ravens walloped the Bengals back in Week 6, 27-3. Baltimore's defense recorded seven sacks and forced three turnovers while holding the Bengals to 205 total yards. Marcus Peters' first quarter interception of Joe Burrow set up the Ravens' second touchdown, while linebacker Patrick Queen's 53-yard fumble return for a score put the game on ice. Cincinnati's defense, led by Logan Wilson and Jessie Bates, did hold Lamar Jackson to just 180 yards on 19-of-37 passing.
Quite a bit has changed since that Week 6 meeting. The Ravens, who were 5-1 after defeating the Bengals, lost four of their next five games as the team dealt with injuries and a rash of COVID-19 cases. Baltimore has rebounded with four consecutive wins, as their offense has averaged nearly 38 points per game during that span. A big reason for the Ravens' recent offensive success has been the play of running backs Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins, who have combined to rush for 1,308 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging nearly 5.2 yards per carry. And while his numbers aren't quite what they were during his MVP campaign, Jackson has accounted for 30 touchdowns this season. Jackson is also just 92 yards away from becoming the first quarterback in league history to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Sunday will mark the Bengals' fifth game without Burrow, who is currently rehabbing in California after undergoing knee surgery in early December. Cincinnati lost their first three games without Burrow before recording an impressive 27-17 win over the Steelers on prime time. The Bengals followed up that win with a six-point win this past Sunday in Houston. Cincinnati's late surge has been led by quarterbacks Ryan Finley and Brandon Allen. Finley passed and ran for scores in Cincinnati's win over Pittsburgh, while Allen threw for 371 yards and two touchdowns (while completing over 78% of his throws) in the Bengals' win over the Texans. The Bengals' quarterbacks have also benefited by a rushing attack that gained 152 and 169 yards in their last two games, respectively.
While the Bengals are certainly playing better on both sides of the ball, it's hard to fathom the Ravens losing to a four-win team in a must-win game. This game will likely come down to which team can win the battles in the trenches as well as the turnover margin. The Ravens are first in the NFL in rushing and ninth against the run. Conversely, the Bengals, despite their recent success, are 25th in the league in both rushing and run defense. This clearly gives the edge to Baltimore, who will likely unleash the running trio of Jackson, Edwards and Dobbins early and often in Cincinnati.
Score: Ravens 31, Bengals 17