Ravens

Quick Links

Rested Bengals placed in prime playoff position

Rested Bengals placed in prime playoff position

CINCINNATI (AP) The Bengals returned from their weekend off with a big bounce in their playoff chances.

While they rested from their 34-13 win in Philadelphia on Thursday night, the Bengals (8-6) moved into position to get the second AFC wild card spot. Pittsburgh (7-7) slipped a game behind with its overtime loss in Dallas.

If they win out, the Bengals would make the postseason, something that seemed highly unlikely at midseason when they slogged through a four-game losing streak.

There's also a chance they could win the AFC North, although they need help. Baltimore (9-7) lost its third straight game over the weekend, taking the division title down to the last two weeks.

The Bengals finish with games at Pittsburgh and at home against Baltimore. The one next week could go a long way in deciding their playoff fate. If the Steelers win, the Bengals would have an identical record with Pittsburgh, but the Steelers would have the head-to-head tiebreaker because it would have swept the season series.

If they win the last two games, the Bengals would achieve a few noteworthy franchise breakthroughs. Cincinnati, after all, has gone to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons only once in a 44-year history. The 1981 team reached the Super Bowl and returned to the playoffs the next season.

The Bengals would also end their recent futility against the AFC North's top teams. The Bengals are 0-6 against the Steelers and Ravens over the last two seasons.

Cincinnati has lost a combined 10 straight games to the Steelers and Ravens, dating back to the 2009 season when the Bengals won their last division title. Last season, they reached the playoffs as a wild card team.

``We really haven't done anything yet,'' safety Chris Crocker said on Monday. ``I'm not going to say this is a defining moment because we play these guys twice a year. But this is very big, especially at the end of the season.

``We're picking up momentum. These teams are postseason teams every year. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are always in the postseason and they always go deep, so it's important for us to play well against them now in order to go in with some momentum if we do make the postseason.''

Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati 24-17 on Oct. 21 at Paul Brown Stadium, a game that the Bengals let slip away. They jumped out to a 14-3 lead in the first quarter, but managed just 105 yards of offense after going 80 yards on 15 plays to score a touchdown on the opening possession.

Quarterback Andy Dalton is 0-6 in his career against the Steelers and Ravens. He's completed less than 50 percent of his passes (40 of 82) against Pittsburgh and has never thrown for more than 170 yards in his three games.

Cincinnati has managed just 38 first downs against Pittsburgh with Dalton as the starting quarterback.

``It's us taking care of our business,'' right tackle Andre Smith said. ``They have a great defense and they're going to play their game and wait for people to mess up. It's up to us to go out there and compete and execute every single play.''

This will be the fifth time during coach Marvin Lewis' 10 seasons in Cincinnati that the teams have played in Week 12 or later with playoff ramifications on the line for the Bengals. Three of those previous four games were also at Heinz Field.

Cincinnati won on the road 24-20 in 2003 on Jon Kitna's late pass to Matt Schobel. The Bengals finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs.

They won again at Heinz Field in 2005, a 38-31 victory that put them in position to clinch the division title two weeks later. The Bengals then lost to the Steelers in the first round of the playoffs at Paul Brown Stadium, with Carson Palmer getting a torn knee on his first pass attempt.

Pittsburgh denied the Bengals a playoff berth in 2006 with a 23-17 overtime win at Paul Brown Stadium in the final game of the regular season.

Last season at Heinz Field, the Steelers routed the Bengals 35-7. Despite the loss, the Bengals still earned the No. 6 seed in the playoffs.

``They've been there, done that and played in many big games,'' Crocker said. ``We have to win this game.

``I don't know where we are if we don't win this game.''

---

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

Quick Links

2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

usatsi_10224999.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

2018 NFL Playoff Picture: Who to root for in Week 15 if you are a Baltimore Ravens fan

Heading into Week 15, there are plenty of questions surrounding the Baltimore Ravens and the AFC playoff picture. 

As things stand now, the Ravens (7-6) lead a four-way tie for the final Wild Card spot. Their 1-0 record against those other three opponents is the difference with them being in the playoffs. With that, there is no room for error with three weeks left in the season. A win by the Chargers has now narrowed the field even tighter.

Last week, only one result broke the Ravens way, a Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Oakland Raiders. This week, Baltimore cannot afford a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) with the schedules their competition have remaining.

As always, here are the teams in the playoff picture in the AFC that the Ravens hold a tiebreaker over:
-Tennessee Titans (7-6) -head-to-head
-Denver Broncos (6-7) - head-to-head

With these tiebreakers still up in the air:

-Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1)
-New England Patriots (9-4)
-Houston Texans (9-4)
-Miami Dolphins (7-6)
-Indianapolis Colts (7-6)
-Cleveland Browns (5-7-1)
-Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) 

What bodes well for the Ravens is that no team has a tiebreaker locked up over Baltimore. But, the tiebreakers amongst all of their divisional opponents are yet to be decided.

Ravens Week 15 Rooting Guide

Houston Texans (9-4) vs. New York Jets (4-9)
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 4:30 p.m.

The Jets are officially eliminated from playoff contention, while the Texans are leading the AFC South. The Texans have a soft schedule left (@ Eagles and vs. Jaguars), so if the Ravens want a late-season run to propel them to the No. 3 seed they need Houston to lose in this one. A win by the Texans will give them the tiebreaker over Baltimore. Root for the Jets.

Cleveland Browns (5-7-1) vs. Denver Broncos (6-7) 
Saturday, Dec. 15 at 8:20 p.m.

This is a tough pick this week if you are a Ravens fan. A win by both teams would be equally bad for Baltimore. They have the tiebreaker over Denver and even with a win over Cleveland in Week 17, the Browns still could have the tiebreaker. Two Baltimore wins though, no matter who they're against, would place them ahead of both teams. Right now, root for the Broncos (although this might end up hurting the Ravens down the road).

A Broncos win would do twofold, put the Browns on the brink of elimination and if eliminated, the Ravens could have an easier chance at victory in Week 17 to potentially take the division title. This is a rare scenario that a tie might be the best scenario for Baltimore.

Oakland Raiders (3-10) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (5-8)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Pretty straight forward here. Oakland is out and Cincinnati is still in contention (technically). Root for the Raiders to eliminate the Bengals.

Tennessee Titans (7-6) vs. New York Giants (5-8) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

AFC vs. NFC. A win by the Giants here could go a long way for the Ravens if they end up needing a Wild Card spot. Root for the Giants.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) vs. Minnesota Vikings (6-6-1)
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Again, AFC vs. NFC. Root for the Vikings. This game in particular needs to go the way of the Ravens because the only teams that Miami have left are the four-win Jags and Bills with the conference tiebreaker still up for grabs.

Dallas Cowboys (8-5) vs. Indianapolis Colts (7-6) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 1:00 p.m.

Round III of AFC vs. NFC. Perhaps the most dangerous team to contend with the Ravens for that spot. Root for the Cowboys.

New England Patriots (9-4) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5-1) 
Sunday, Dec. 16 at 4:25 p.m.

Last week we told you to root for the Patriots and then they ended up losing. This week we will tell you to root for the Patriots again. This, however, is for more obvious reasons. 

A Steelers loss and a Ravens win puts Baltimore atop the division and in the driver's seat for the AFC North title. While yes the Ravens can still find another way to win the division and pass the Patriots for a higher seed, Baltimore does not control their playoff fate. With the scenario above, they do.

MORE RAVENS NEWS:

Quick Links

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Baltimore Ravens (7-6) get set to host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-8) Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium with the postseason in sight.

The Ravens are 3-2 all time against the Bucs with a 1-1 record when playing in Baltimore. The last time these two teams met was back in 2014 when the Ravens handed Tampa Bay a 48-17 loss, marking the most points ever scored by the Ravens on the road.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of the Week 15 matchup.

New Era

Incase you've been living in a hole the last two days, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced that rookie Lamar Jackson will be starting Sunday and Joe Flacco would be the backup in what appears to be a new era in Baltimore. 

Both Flacco and Jackson handled the news with class as the decision wasn't that big of surprise considering Jackson has led the team to three wins in their last four matchups. Harbaugh wouldn't divulge if and how they would utilize Flacco's talents, but alternating between the two throughout the matchup could trip up a lot of defenders. On top of that, the Buccaneers' defense is bottom of the barrel ranking 30th in the league in points (29.5), 27th in yards (387.9), 27th in passing yards (268.5) and 20th in rushing yards (119.4). 

Another Defensive Challenge

While their 5-8 record may not show it, the Buccaneers' offense could present a challenge for the Ravens' No. 1 scoring defense. Heading into Week 15, Tampa Bay is ranked 10th in the league in points (25.5), second in yards (430.1), first in passing yards (331.4), but 27th in rushing yards (98.7). Their 4,308 passing yards are the third-most through the first 13 games in NFL history and their 5,591 total yards are the eighth-most through the first 13 games in NFL history.

Wide receiver Mike Evans is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving touchdowns over the last two seasons at 22, while Cameron Brate is tied for third in the league in receiving touchdowns among tight ends in 2018 at six. The Bucs also have seven different players to score at least five touchdowns so far this season making them just the fifth team to accomplish that .

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson has missed the last two games as he deals with a left thumb injury sustained in the season opener and re-injured against the New York Giants in Week 11. The injury has left him unable to squeeze a football with that hand, so don't expect D-Jack on the field Sunday. 

Postseason In Sight

The Ravens have found themselves in this situation many times before. With three games to play, the Ravens sit in the sixth and final AFC playoff spot and half a game back of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC North title.

In typical fashion, it's going to come down to the wire. The Ravens are in a four-way race with the Colts, Titans and Dolphins for the final playoff spot. A win Sunday against the Buccaneers is a must as they head to Los Angeles in Week 16 to face the Chargers, who just handed the Kansas City Chiefs a rare loss on Thursday Night Football and the Cleveland Browns in Week 17. 

Claiming the division and playing January football for the first time in three seasons is on the horizon, and with two quarterbacks to use at their disposal the Ravens are truly in control of writing their own ending. 

Click here to see the Ravens-Bucs injury report. 

Ravens vs. Buccaneers Week 15 How to Watch:

Who: Baltimore Ravens vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

What: Week 15 regular season

When: Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Watch Now with fuboTV - Try free trial

Radio: WBAL New Radio 1090 and 98Rock

Weather: 47 degrees, mostly cloudy with some rain

Ravens 2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: Sun., 9/9. Ravens vs. Bills. Win, 47-3 (1-0)

Week 2: Thur., 9/13 Ravens at Bengals. Loss, 34-23 (1-1)

Week 3: Sun., 9/23 Ravens vs. Broncos. Win, 27-14 (2-1)

Week 4: Sun., 9/30 Ravens at Steelers. Win, 26-14 (3-1)

Week 5: Sun., 10/7 Ravens at Browns. Loss, 12-9 (3-2)

Week 6: Sun., 10/14 Ravens at Titans. Win, 21-0 (4-2)

Week 7: Sun., 10/21 vs. Saints, 4:05 p.m. Loss, 24-23 (4-3)

Week 8: Sun., 10/28 @ Panthers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 36-21 (4-4)

Week 9: Sun., 11/4 vs. Steelers, 1:00 p.m. Loss 23-16 (4-5)

Week 10:  BYE week

Week 11: Sun., 11/18 vs. Bengals, 1:00 p.m. Win 24-21 (5-5)

Week 12: Sun., 11/25 vs. Raiders, 1:00 p.m. Win 34-17 (6-5)

Week 13: Sun., 12/2 @ Falcons, 1:00 p.m. Win 26-16 (7-5)

Week 14: Sun., 12/9 @ Chiefs, 1:00 p.m. Loss 27-24 (7-6)

Week 15: Sun., 12/16 vs. Buccaneers, 1:00 p.m.

Week 16: Sat., 12/22 @ Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET

Week 17: Sun., 12/30 vs. Browns, 1:00 p.m.

MORE RAVENS NEWS: