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Game Scout: Ravens at Bengals

The SportsXchange

Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5)

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati - TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

*Keys to the game: The recurring theme for the Ravens this season is the enormous weight thrust on QB Joe Flacco to do it all with his arm due to the utter lack of a ground game. He threw for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting, a 20-17 overtime victory at home after the Bengals tied it up at the end of regulation, and the Ravens' playoff hopes will again hinge on his ability to lead the offense through the air. Cincinnati allows just 99.8 rushing yards per game, including 85 in Baltimore. The Bengals' offense has been clicking the past three weeks, rolling up 104 points with QB Andy Dalton spreading the field and utilizing complementary weapons when coverage is rolled to WR A.J. Green. The ground game is still sporadic, including a combined 44 yards on 25 carries by BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard last week.

*Matchup to watch - Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs vs. Bengals LT Anthony Collins: Andrew Whitworth kicked inside to guard to help improve the Bengals' offensive line as a unit, and the move appears to have been a smart one. Suggs had just two tackles in the first game, but enters with 10 sacks on the season and remains one of the Ravens' top defensive playmakers.

*Player spotlight - Ravens CB Lardarius Webb: Webb is quietly one of the league's best cornerbacks against the run, but his primary task Sunday will be keeping Green in check. Green had eight catches for 151 yards and the tying 51-yard touchdown in the first meeting.

*Fast facts: Ravens WR Torrey Smith has 1,101 receiving yards and needs 101 to breaking Michael Jackson's 1996 single-season record. ... The Bengals are seeking to go 8-0 at home during the regular season.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Bengals want a first-round bye. The Ravens want to make the playoffs, period. These AFC North rivals will bring it, with the Bengals getting a slight nod at home with an offense that has stepped it up a notch in December.

*Our pick: Bengals 24-23
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