The Bengals’ 11th game of the season is here and it will tell the tale of the rest of the season.
Cincinnati enters this game with a 3-6-1 mark, including a 1-4-1 stretch since Week 5. That has the Bengals in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and are on pace to finish with the fewest wins (4) in one season in the Marvin Lewis era.
Baltimore has endured a roller-coaster season that has them in a great spot to win the AFC North this season. They went 3-0 in September but then had an 0-4 October. The Ravens have rebounded to post a 2-1 mark in November, but they lost last week at 9-1 Dallas, 27-17.
The Ravens enter Week 12 leading the league in rush defense (76.0), which is bad news for a Bengals team that must now rely on straight-line runner Jeremy Hill with Giovani Bernard on Injured Reserve. Bernard was the back who usually had more success vs the Ravens, but a torn ACL has ended his season.
The Ravens also sport the No. 2 total defense and rank fifth in fewest points allowed (18.7 ppg). Their offense has been a balanced attack with no one player doing the bulk of the damage, especially in s passing game that has three receivers with 44 or more catches. Dennis Pitta has 49, Mike Wallace has 48, and WR Steve Smith Sr. 44, though Smith is averaging a team-high 5.5 catches per game (missed 2 games with ankle injury).
Here is everything you will need to watch and follow the Bengals face the Ravens.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)
Game Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Place: M&T Bank Stadium
Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play), Dan Fouts (analyst) and Evan Washburn (sideline reporter). The game will be aired in the Bengals’ home market on WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Channel 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Channel 27) in Lexington, Ky.
Online: NFL Sunday Ticket
Local Radio: Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7).
Broadcasters: Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
Series and recent matchups: The Bengals have won five straight vs. Baltimore to tie the series at 20 wins apiece. This week the Bengals look for their first lead in the series since after the first of two meetings in 1998, at which point they led 3-2. Baltimore went on to win 10 of the next 12 meetings, taking a 12-5 lead after the first game of 2004, but Cincinnati leads 15-8 since that point.
Both clubs lead 13-7 at home, but the Bengals have won their last two at M&T Bank Stadium, including a 28-24 decision last season in which they twice rallied from fourth-quarter deficits. Six of the last seven meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.
Betting line: The Ravens are a 3-point favorite as of Friday morning, according to OddsShark.
SB Nation Affiliate: Baltimore Beatdown.
More Reading: Everything Bengals vs Bills.
Weather: Cloudy in the high 40s with a zero-percent chance of rain during the game.
Prediction: Both teams are in must-win mode with playoff hopes at stake, but the home team gets the slight edge here. Baltimore needs a win here to keep pace with the Steelers, who host the Ravens in Week 16 and have the more favorable schedule down the stretch.
Cincinnati may come into this game having won five straight vs Baltimore, but many of the guys who played big roles in those games are out or with another team now. The Ravens jump out to an early lead, the Bengals fight back, and the home team comes away with a close win.
Ravens 23, Bengals 17