What: Ravens (5-10) at Bengals (11-4)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Watch: Ravens Kickoff (12 p.m., CSN+) followed by Ravens Postgame Live (4 p.m., CSN+)
Five questions to ask heading into Sunday’s game:
1. What will Ravens quarterback Ryan Mallet do for an encore?
Mallet was superb (28 for 41, 274 yards, one touchdown) in his Ravens debut against the Steelers, but the Bengals have given up fewer points (263) than any team in the NFL. This is a tougher assignment for Mallet, and it’s on the road. If Mallet plays well again, it will make an even stronger case for him being the backup quarterback to Joe Flacco next season.
2. Can the Ravens avoid being punished by Bengals wide receiver A. J. Green?
Green has averaged 142.5 receiving yards in his last four games against Baltimore. In Week 3 against the Ravens, Green went off for 10 catches, 227 yards, and two touchdowns. He’s a major reason why the Bengals have won four straight against the Ravens. However, two factors are working in the Ravens’ favor. No. 1, the Ravens pass defense has improved dramatically since November. No. 2, the Bengals’ offense has not been nearly as explosive with A. J. McCarron at quarterback as it was when Andy Dalton was healthy.
3. Will Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert be a difference-maker?
Eifert (concussion) is expected to play after practicing this week, and his presence as a third down target could help McCarron greatly.
4. Will Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap wreck the Ravens’ passing attack?
Dunlap is third in the league with 13 ½ sacks, and keeping him away from Mallett is a top priority for Ravens offensive tackles Rick Wagner and Kelechi Osemele.
5. Can the injury-depleted Ravens pull off two straight upsets?
Ending the season with wins over the Steelers and Bengals would be a nice way for the Ravens to enter the offseason. But the Bengals have plenty of motivation, needing a victory to have a chance for a first-round bye.
PREDICTION: The Ravens are playing loose, and the Bengals are coming off a short week after losing Monday night in Denver. I smell another upset.
Ravens 24, Bengals 23.
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