The Baltimore Sun
10:09 AM EST, December 30, 2011
• Mike Florio and Gregg Rosenthal of NBC Sports' ProFootballTalk both expect the Ravens to edge the Bengals to clinch the AFC North division title and a first-round bye.
Florio's take: The Bengals haven't been able to take down the big boys in the AFC North. But they lost by only seven points at Baltimore, and Sunday's game has high stakes for both teams. Still, since it's essentially a playoff game for the Bengals and given that the Bengals are 0-2 in playoff games under Marvin Lewis, the Ravens' desire to secure the bye and a home game likely will prevail. Florio's pick: Ravens 17, Bengals 16.
Rosenthal's take: The Ravens can't beat mediocre competition on the road (San Diego, Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Seattle.) The Bengals can't seem to beat playoff teams. (They're 0-5 against teams already in the playoffs.) Something has to give here. It's more likely to include the team with the rookie quarterback. Rosenthal's pick: Ravens 21, Bengals 17.
• SI.com's Peter King doesn't think the Ravens can get it done on the road against Cincinnati.
Bengals 21, Ravens 18: In the end, puzzling over this game is futile. The Ravens are better. But I don't trust their offense, and I don't trust their road resume (3-4 away, 8-0 home this year), and I trust Andy Dalton to win a big one. Finally.
• SI.com's "Bet On It" feature predicts Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will have trouble with turnovers in the game.
Joe Flacco will throw at least two picks: Flacco has had all sorts of issues playing in Cincinnati -- in three career games there, he has thrown six interceptions to just three touchdowns. The Baltimore QB didn't miss Anquan Boldin last week, but he'll feel that loss more Sunday.
• Eric Allen, Ron Jaworski and Seth Wickersham pick the Ravens to win, but the rest of the ESPN NFL "experts" believe the Bengals will be victorious.
• Cris Carter is the only ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown analyst to choose the Ravens this week.
• CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco thinks the Ravens will have trouble wrapping up the regular season against Cincinnati.
Bengals 23, Ravens 17: If the Bengals win here, they are in the playoffs, but the Ravens are playing for a first-round bye. This will be a physical war. The first game between the two was close and the Bengals had their chances. This one will be close as well. I think A.J. Green, who didn't play in the first meeting, will be the difference. Bengals get into the playoffs.
• Three out of five CBSSports.com analysts believe the Ravens will beat the Bengals.
• FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager explains why he doesn't expect the Ravens to win.
Outside of their last-second win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the Ravens have been downright terrible on the road this season. The Titans in Week 2? Horrible 26-13 loss. An awful Jaguars team on national television in Week 7? A pitiful 12-7 loss. A 2-6 Seattle team out in the Pacific Northwest? A 22-17 loss. Week 15 out in San Diego? That one was over by halftime.
• Cris Collinsworth and Warren Sapp pick the Ravens to win, but Phil Simms thinks Cincinnati will earn a spot in the NFL playoffs.
Seeing other predictions on this week's NFL games? Leave them as a comment below.
[Compiled by Dean Jones Jr.]
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