Ravens playoff hopes on the line in must-win game against the Bengals

Ravens (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Ravens (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals game in Week 16 is not exactly a win-or-go-home matchup, but it’s no doubt the most crucial game for the remainder of Baltimore’s season.

After falling to the Green Bay Packers, all Ravens games are considered must-wins. But Week 16 against the Bengals is an absolutely-positively-must-win game for its division implications.

Since the Bengals hold the tiebreaker against the Ravens in the AFC North, Cincinnati currently sits in first in the division. Should the Ravens win on Sunday, not only would it nullify the tiebreaker but it would give them the one-game lead.

With three games left in the season, that lead could very well hand them the division crown. ESPN’s Jamison Hensley broke down the Ravens’ chances of winning the division depending on whether they beat or lose to Cincinnati.

The Ravens head into the highest-stakes matchup of the season against the Bengals in Week 16

Basically, the numbers say: don’t lose.

In their first meeting in October, the Ravens got curb-stomped 41-17 by a Bengals offense that was automatically firing on all fronts.

Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns and rookie wideout Ja’Marr Chase posted a season-high 201 receiving yards.

Ravens wide receivers didn’t have a total dud of a game, with Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman posting 80 yards each.

But Baltimore’s offense didn’t look nearly as efficent as Cincinnati’s, partly due to the fact that Mark Andrews had a quiet game (Andrews had just three catches for 48 yards and failed to reach the end zone all game) and that Lamar Jackson got sacked a whopping five times.

With Jackson hoping to return in Week 16, this matchup could hinge on his connection with his favorite tight end.

There’s an undeniable positive correlation between Andrews’ performances and that of the team’s, and if Andrews can play as well as he did against the Packers in Week 15, the Bengals’ defense will have a much more difficult time in coverage.

After all the trash talk Bengals cornerback Eli Apple posted on Twitter, too, Baltimore will be hungrier than ever for revenge and for the potentially division-winning victory.

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No one probably expected the AFC North to come down to a matchup between the Ravens and the Bengals in Week 16, but here we are. May the better prepared team win.