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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals vs. Ravens

The two AFC North rivals wrap up regular-season play.

NFL: DEC 26 Ravens at Bengals Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The regular-season finale is here for the Cincinnati Bengals, who will be looking to get revenge over the Ravens for that Week 5 setback in Baltimore.

It’s safe to assume that, as long as they stay healthy throughout the season, at least one of these teams will have playoff implications at stake in Week 18.

The Ravens, despite all of their injuries last season, had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a win over the Steelers in Week 18 but fell short in overtime with Tyler Huntley subbing in for an injured Lamar Jackson.

As for the Bengals, they had already clinched the AFC North entering the regular-season finale, but don’t expect that to be as easy this time around if the Ravens can stay healthy and not lose an onslaught of key guys to season-ending injuries before regular-season play even begins.

Then you’ve got Lamar Jackson, who was nearly unstoppable in his first three seasons but came back down to Earth a bit in 2021, though a big part of that was all the injuries around him and later to himself. He missed the final five games last season due to an ankle injury, and as mentioned above, Baltimore was still oh so close to making the playoffs.

In Jackson’s first four NFL seasons, he’s gone 6-1, 13-2, 11-4 and 7-5 as a starter while losing just once to the Bengals. If he plays every game, the Ravens should at least have a winning record and probably make into the playoffs.

As you may recall, I picked the Ravens to narrowly beat the Bengals in Baltimore earlier in the season. Now, I’m picking the Bengals to grind out a close triumph to close out a 13-win season.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 52.5% chance to win.

My prediction: Bengals 26, Ravens 23

Final regular-season record: 13-4

Let us know how you see the Bengals’ final regular-season game playing out!