A Week 17 meeting between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens looked like a marquee matchup when the 2016 schedule was released, but the reality of the situation turned out quite different. Both teams will be finishing up the season without looking ahead to the playoffs when the Bengals host the Ravens on Sunday.
Baltimore controlled its own destiny for the AFC North title but dropped two of the last three games, including a crushing 31-27 setback at Pittsburgh last week that clinched the division for the Steelers. The Ravens don’t plan on laying down in the finale and will play all of their healthy veterans after coach John Harbaugh told reporters, “We’re going to win the game. We wouldn’t look at it any other way.” Cincinnati is taking a similar approach, though the injury list is longer and the team will not push wide receiver A.J. Green (hamstring) or linebacker Vontaze Burfict (concussion) to return. Green traveled with the team to Houston last week but was told he would not play on Friday and left to return to Cincinnati, where he has been around the team but not practicing.
ABOUT THE RAVENS (8-7): The finale marks the likely final career game for wide receiver Steve Smith Sr., who says he is “89 percent sure” he will retire. “There will be mourning,” Smith told reporters. “There will be a lot of emotions. Also, there are a lot of other things I can grasp on that you can’t take away. That I can hold on to. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to move on. That’s part of life.” The 37-year-old is one of 11 players in NFL history with at least 1,000 catches and 14,000 yards and leads Baltimore’s receivers with five TD catches this season.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (5-9-1): Cincinnati could be saying goodbye to longtime offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, 35, who is a free agent after the season. The Bengals don’t plan to say goodbye to head coach Marvin Lewis, who took the team to the playoffs in each of the previous five seasons and shot down retirement rumors this week. “I’ll be back in 2017,” Lewis said on SiriusXM radio after causing a stir while refusing to answer that question during his weekly press conference.
1. Bengals RB Jeremy Hill (knee) sat out practice on Thursday and is questionable.
2. Ravens LB Zach Orr (neck), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle) and T Rick Wagner (concussion) are all questionable after sitting out practice this week.
3. Baltimore lost its last four trips to Cincinnati.
PREDICTION: Ravens 24, Bengals 14