With one game left in the regular season, the outlook does not look good for the Ravens, whose playoff fate is out of their control even if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Missing the playoffs? I don’t see that one coming when I looked into my crystal ball before the season started. But the Ravens still have a chance, so keep your fingers crossed that this won't be my last edition of these four bold predictions.
1. TORREY SMITH WILL BREAK MICHAEL JACKSON’S RECORD
Smith has slowed down in recent weeks, but with 1,101 receiving yards this season, he is within striking distance of the team’s single-season receiving mark. The wide receiver needs 101 yards to break Michael Jackson’s record from the 1996 season. Smith hasn’t topped 100 yards since he did it in back-to-back weeks in late September and early October and he had just five catches for 46 yards the last time the Ravens played the Bengals. But the Ravens need a big game from him Sunday and I see him delivering. Look for Smith to get the yardage he needs to pass Jackson and then some.
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2. THE RAVENS WILL HOLD A.J. GREEN UNDER 100 YARDS
The Bengals wide-out had a monster game against the Ravens in Week 10, catching eight balls for 151 yards. But a couple of his receptions, including his Hail Mary touchdown at the end of regulation, came on tipped passes. Green won’t be as lucky, especially if the Ravens have emerging cornerback Jimmy Smith trail him around the field like they did with Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson a couple of weeks ago. Green will get his catches and might score a touchdown, but Smith and the Ravens won’t let him top 100 receiving yards like they did in their win seven weeks ago.
3. GIOVANI BERNARD WILL BUST FREE FOR A LONG GAIN
The rookie Bengals running back made some impressive plays in their last meeting with the Ravens, including a 19-yard touchdown reception, but the Ravens got the last laugh, stuffing him for a loss on fourth down in overtime. Still, the Ravens came away impressed with Bernard's elusiveness and big-play ability. Unfortunately for them, Bernard will display those qualities again Sunday. Bernard is bound to add to his highlight reel with a long gain — I’m thinking 30 yards or more — whether it comes after he takes a handoff from Andy Dalton or snags a short pass from the Bengals quarterback.
4. TERRELL SUGGS AND ELVIS DUMERVIL WILL GO OUT WITH A BANG
Not long ago it looked like Suggs and Dumervil would record more than a dozen sacks apiece and set a new franchise mark for sacks by a pair of teammates. But in recent weeks, Suggs has been slowed by offensive tackles and Dumervil by an ankle injury. With one game left, they have 19.5 sacks, meaning that equaling the 24 sacks combined for Trevor Pryce and Adalius Thomas in 2006 will be a long shot. The Ravens had five sacks against the Bengals in Week 10, including three from Dumervil, so I expect Suggs and Dumervil to make one last run at the record but ultimately fall short.