It is the final game of the season and the Bengals have a chance to improve their post season standings. On the other side, the Ravens are playing for the opportunity to stay alive one more week. The Bengals are 6.5 point favorites and the over under is 45. Let's see what the experts think will happen.
|Elliot Harrison - NFL.com||24 - 17||We heard that some in the Ravens organization thought the Steelers would beat the Bengals and Baltimore would win out to take the AFC North. Well, the first part happened, at least. Now, unlike last year's version, this Week 17 matchup between the Ravens and Bengals actually means something. Cincinnati is playing for the AFC's No. 2 seed while Baltimore simply is trying to get into the postseason dance in the first place. For that to happen, the Ravens must be able to get their passing game going against the Bengals -- something Matt Cassel and the Vikings couldn't do in Cincinnati last Sunday. Unfortunately, the Ravens' lack of a run game will hurt them on the road; pounding an opponent via a good ground attack is a phenomenal way to shut up a home crowd. We're ... gulp ... putting our faith in the Bengals. Let's hope the Gruden mystique (mistakes) doesn't make us regret that.|
|Don Banks - SI||31 - 23
||That just didn't look like a John Harbaugh-coached Ravens team last week at home against New England. Baltimore came out flat and never showed the kind of fight we've come to expect from the Ravens. Still, with a win against the Bengals and a loss by either Miami or San Diego, Baltimore will be playoff-bound for a league-best sixth consecutive year, a remarkable accomplishment in today's NFL. But the more likely scenario is the Ravens become the fourth defending Super Bowl champion in the past eight years to not even make it back to the playoffs. The Bengals, Patriots and Saints are the only three teams with a shot to finish a perfect 8-0 at home this season.|
|Pete Prisco - CBS||
||24 - 17||The Bengals have a chance to get to the second seed if the Bills beat the Patriots. That means they will play hard. And wouldn't they like to knock their division rival out of the playoffs? The Ravens were awful last week against the Patriots. Can they bounce back? Not in this stadium where the Bengals are 7-0.|
|Coley Harvey - ESPN||31 - 21||Cincinnati plays its best football at home, and will continue to do so Sunday. Hopeful for a Patriots loss that could give them a No. 2 postseason seeding, the Bengals still will be playing to win. Baltimore will rally, but will come up short.|
|Jamison Hensley - ESPN||28 - 20||The Ravens typically bounce back from demoralizing defeats. But, with a banged-up Flacco, there's not a sense that Baltimore can get up from this knockout blow, especially against a division opponent that plays its best at home.|
|Greg Cote - Miami Herald||27 - 17||Ravens make playoffs with a win and a loss by either Miami or San Diego. Bengals are in but have incentive; they secure a first-round bye with a win if Pats lose. Defending champions are on 5-1 run in series but are only 2-5 on road this year vs. Cincy's shiny 7-0 home mark. 'Gals also have topped 40 points in four in a row at home, first since 2000 Rams to do that.|
|Mike Florio - ProFootballTalk||20 - 17||The Bengals need a win and some help in order to secure the No. 2 seed. The Ravens need a win and some help to extend their streak of playoff appearances to six. While the Bengals are unbeaten at home, the Ravens have the greater incentive and enough talent to capitalize.|
|Michael David Smith - ProFootballTalk||24 - 14||The Ravens suffered a huge letdown last week against the Patriots, and I see the defending champions' season ending on Sunday in Cincinnati.|
Then there are the experts that pick the winners without a score projection or a writeup. Some of those are here:
When I ran the simulation at WhatIfSports.com, The Bengals find themselves on the right side of the score board.