Consider this familiar territory for the Bengals.
For the eighth time in the past 11 seasons, the Bengals will close out the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens.
It's also a familiar spot for the Bengals to play the spoiler role. Back in 2017, the Ravens needed to defeat the Bengals to secure a spot in the postseason. However, Baltimore was ousted from the playoff hunt in stunning fashion when Andy Dalton threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd with 44 seconds left to give the Bengals a 31-27 victory.
Fast forward to the 2020 season and the Bengals once again have an opportunity to prevent the Ravens from playing in the postseason. Riding a two-game winning streak, the Bengals are playing some of their best football under head coach Zac Taylor by riding the wave of an improved pass rush, winning the turnover differential and an improved rushing attack.
Here are the three things to watch as the Bengals once again face the Ravens in Week 17.
1. Battle Tested – In the 37 Bengals-Ravens meetings in which the turnover differential has not been even, the team who wins the turnover battle has posted a 33-5 record. It's one of the best stats to show the importance of the turnover battle when it comes to these two teams.
For the Bengals, winning the turnover battle will be paramount to pulling out a victory in Week 17. The Bengals are 3-1-1 this season with a plus turnover differential. During the two-game winning streak, Cincinnati has not turned the ball over and been plus-four.
2. Bend But Don't Break – Baltimore enters Sunday's contest leading the league in rushing with 177.8 yards per game. The Ravens have not been held below 100 yards rushing this season and are coming off a game against the New York Giants where they ran for 249 yards on the ground.
In the first meeting at Baltimore, the Bengals did a nice job of holding the Ravens in check. Cincinnati deployed elements of a 4-4, usually with four linemen, three linebackers and strong safety Vonn Bell in the box. The scheme forced Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson to throw the ball 37 times. Jackson finished the game with a 4.9 yards-per-attempt average through the air while the rushing attack averaged 6.7 yards-per-carry.
3. Success On Third Down – One area both teams have enjoyed success recently is on third down. In their last three games, the Ravens lead the NFL converting 64.7 percent on third down. The Bengals rank 13th in that same three-game span at a 44.2 percent success rate.
A key component to the Bengals recent third-down success rate is staying ahead of the sticks and running the football successfully to create third and short opportunities. The offense looks rejuvenated thanks to a running game that produced 152 yards in a 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers and 169 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-31 triumph Sunday against the Houston Texans.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).