The Baltimore Sun's Ravens beat crew predicts who will win Sunday’s game against the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens 23, Bengals 17
The Ravens have an 8-2 record after the bye week under John Harbaugh. They’ve also only suffered one four-game losing streak in his tenure, and it seems unlikely that will happen this week with a game that is so important for the Ravens’ wild-card hopes and against a division rival in disarray. The Bengals are not the same team that soundly beat the Ravens early in the season: They fired their defensive coordinator this week and rank last, or near-last, in most defensive categories. Of course we don’t know at this juncture who will be the starting quarterback for the Ravens, but if Lamar Jackson starts instead of Joe Flacco, it’ll be interesting to see if he struggles against Marvin Lewis’ defense as much as Flacco has recently.
Ravens 26, Bengals 20
Desperate times call for desperate measures, but Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis’ decision to fire defensive coordinator Teryl Austin on Monday seemed too desperate. If the Ravens harbor any hope of making a run to the AFC playoffs, they can’t afford to lose this game. That motivation should be just enough for the Ravens to emerge with the win.
Ravens 27, Bengals 24
With or without quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens should put up enough points on the Bengals’ poor defense. The most interesting part of the game will be how much the Ravens offense changes if Lamar Jackson becomes the starting quarterback and how much of an impact coach Marvin Lewis will have on Cincinnati's defense now that he is calling the plays. The Bengals will be without injured receiver A.J. Green, and that is worth seven points.
Ravens 30, Bengals 20
The Ravens have to win this game to keep their playoff hopes realistic, so they're going to have a sense of urgency at a time when the Bengals have to be wondering why management panicked after one ugly loss to one of the most explosive teams in the NFL. Whether Joe Flacco plays or not, the defense should be fired up to stop Andy Dalton ... for a change.
Ravens 24, Bengals 20
The Ravens likely will be starting either a rookie in Lamar Jackson or a banged-up Joe Flacco, and yet that should be enough against a dreadful Cincinnati defense. With receiver A.J. Green sidelined by a toe injury, the Bengals offense is nowhere near as fearsome. The Ravens thrive after bye weeks, and this time won't be any different.
Ravens 23, Bengals 17
The Ravens’ uncertainty at quarterback makes this game more difficult to read. But the Bengals have been lousy on both sides of the ball in recent weeks, and they’re banged up. The well-rested Ravens will keep their season alive with a commanding defensive effort at home.