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Bengals have nothing at stake in final game

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Bengals have nothing at stake in final game

CINCINNATI (AP) With their playoff seeding locked in place, the Bengals have the option of taking it easy with some of their players in the final regular-season game.

They've done it before, and it hasn't turned out so well.

The Bengals (9-6) haven't won a playoff game since 1990, going 0-3 in the postseason under coach Marvin Lewis. He wouldn't talk in any detail Monday about his plans for their concluding game against Baltimore at Paul Brown Stadium, other than to say he's learned from those playoff losses.

In 2009, Cincinnati had clinched the AFC North title before the final game on the road against the Jets. He rested starters during a 37-0 loss to New York. One week later, the Jets came to Cincinnati and won 24-14.

The starters were rested, but their momentum was gone.

``How'd that work out for us?'' Lewis said on Monday. ``I don't really have any beat-up guys. So, the only thing that is at stake is you go out and play to win the game every time we go. That's important.''

A 13-10 victory in Pittsburgh on Sunday clinched the final AFC wild-card spot. Baltimore (10-5) won the AFC North later in the day by beating the Giants.

The Bengals are locked in as the sixth seed, so they'll be on the road for every game in the playoffs. Their destination will be decided by how the final weekend plays out.

The Patriots currently are the No. 3 seed, which would put the Bengals in line for a first-round game at New England. If the Ravens beat the Bengals on Sunday and New England loses at home to Miami, Baltimore would move into the third seed and host Cincinnati in the first round.

There's also a chance the Bengals could open at Houston - where they lost 31-10 in a first-round game last season - or at Denver. The Broncos beat the Bengals 31-23 at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 4.

There are so many possibilities that the Bengals aren't paying much attention. Lewis is trying to get them focused on something else this week: evening up things with the rival that made them look bad at the start of the season.

The Bengals opened in Baltimore on Monday night and lost 44-13, one of the worst season-opening drubbings in franchise history.

``We didn't kick the season off very good, and now we get to finish it at home,'' Lewis said. ``We don't know who we will play (in the playoffs) or where. We just have to take it on ourselves. More in focus, though, is the Baltimore Ravens. They are a good team that just won our division and a team that beat the snot out of us in the first game.''

The Bengals finish at home against the Ravens for the second straight season. Last year, Baltimore came to town and clinched its first division title since 2006 with a 24-16 victory. The Bengals got a wild card when the Jets and Broncos also lost their final games.

It's only the second time in franchise history the Bengals are going to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. They also did it in 1981 - when they reached their first Super Bowl - and in the strike-shortened 1982 season.

The win at Pittsburgh on Sunday had special significance. Cincinnati hadn't beaten the Ravens or Steelers in the last two seasons, going 0-6 against its biggest rivals.

``That's a huge win for us because people were doubting us,'' defensive tackle Domata Peko said on Monday.

Even though the Bengals can't improve their playoff position, they can add to their momentum. Last season, dropped three of their last five games, then lost to Houston in the first round.

The win in Pittsburgh was Cincinnati's sixth in the last seven games. Although the offense has struggled lately, the defense has held opponents to 13 or fewer points six times during that seven-game stretch.

``In December last year, we were kind of (leveled) off a little bit,'' Peko said. ``This year we started slower, but now we're starting to take off. Those are the teams that are dangerous.''

Notes: Lewis said the Bengals emerged from the game in Pittsburgh with no significant injuries. ... The Ravens game hasn't sold out. The Bengals have failed to sell out two of their last three games, which were blacked out on local television. Last season, they did a buy-one, get-one-free ticket promotion to get the final game against the Ravens sold out.

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Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens DT Brandon Williams doesn't see how opposing offenses can attack their defense

Ravens defensive tackle Brandon Williams looks a bit different entering the 2020 season. He’s also got some teammates that look different, too. 

The Ravens added defensive tackles Calais Campbell and Derek Wolfe to the front line, meaning Williams will kick inside to nosetackle this season. He’s changed his body composition as a result, and has shaved off some fat and added more muscle.

“I’ve got to eat the greens, eat the vegetables, the broccoli and whatnot,” Williams said Friday on a Zoom call with reporters. “But, then just working on my body composition, just working on being more — not lighter — but more toned so I can play that nose and keep running the way I do. Those two additions, Wolfe and Calais, I’ve got the twin towers right next to me — those two giants. I don’t see how offenses can come at us, man.”

In order to slim down a little bit the 31-year-old ate with a more watchful eye, as he knew his body would respond accordingly during the season.

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“I’m trying to get my slim-sexy going on — you know what I’m saying?” Williams quipped. “You know, the older you get, the harder it is to get that weight off you, the harder it is to move. You have to think about the joints and all the double-teams you’re taking up and all that stuff. So, when you come in a little bit lighter, it just relieves all that pain a lot of that — I guess — nagging stuff you have to worry about early on.”

Williams had 34 tackles last season and one sack, but is hopeful his move back to the nosetackle spot after the additions of Campbell, Wolfe and draft choices Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington will create a defensive line capable of wreaking havoc on opposing offenses. 

“Those two dudes are good, and I like what I’ve got,” Williams said. “I like my team. I like the way they look, and the new guys are coming up great. We’ve got a lot of things going for us on the D-line and I’m excited to see it.”

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A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

A very good day for NFL tight ends George Kittle and Travis Kelce

It’s been a good day for tight ends in the NFL.

To start the day George Kittle became the highest-paid tight end in the league. Shortly after, Travis Kelce signed an extension keeping him in Kansas City for an additional four years. Now it’s hard to talk about NFL tight ends and not mention either Kittle or Kelce’s name as two of the best in the league. It was only fitting that the two get paid on the exact same day.  

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Kittle and the San Francisco 49ers reached an agreement on a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Kittle deserves every penny of that deal as he’s racked up 2,945 receiving yards, the most by any tight end in NFL history after three seasons. He’s a do-it-all tight end who has great hands, blocks like a guard, and is a huge asset to the locker room.  

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs and Travis Kelce agreed to a four-year, $57.25 million extension. Kelce is a huge part of the Chiefs offense and his stats show that he’s one of the best in the league. He’s the only tight end to ever record four straight 1,000 yard seasons and he’s the fastest tight end ever to 425 career catches and 5,500 receiving yards.  

Kittle and Kelce have set the bar high with their play on the field, but they have now also set the bar for the price tag at their position that comes along with it. 

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