The only season the Bengals swept the Ravens and the Steelers they won the AFC North a dozen years ago and quarterback Joe Burrow is trying to make sure history repeats itself Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in this season's Paul Brown Stadium version of Cincinnati-Baltimore.
The 41-17 win over the Ravens in Baltimore on Oct. 24 has given the Bengals more than an AFC North tiebreaker.
"I think it was around then when we realized how good we could be," Burrow said before Wednesday's practice. "Obviously, we've had some ups and downs throughout the year, and that's going to happen in the NFL. When we play Baltimore, everyone knows what Baltimore can do to teams. And the way we went out and beat them last time I think we all realized what we could be. So, that was exciting for us to get that win. You put that behind us and now we're here with everything on the line in this game."
Slot cornerback Mike Hilton, who played in two playoff games with the Steelers, knows exactly what a sweep of Pittsburgh and Baltimore would mean.
"It would be big. It'll be just another sign of us showing that we're growing as a franchise," Hilton said. "That we're here to stay for the next X amount of years. It would be a big statement to everybody in the AFC North and everybody around the league."
INJURY UPDATE: The Bengals secondary is still waiting on cornerback Chidobe Awuzie to clear COVIOD protocols, but that's the only starter in doubt, making them so much better off than the Ravens in the back end.
And all the way around the defense, where they have just 13 healthy players after putting four on the COVID list Wednesday.
Their two Pro Bowl cornerbacks, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters, are out and on injured reserve. So are two backup cornerbacks. Veteran cornerback Jimmy Smith and his 15 career games and four interceptions against the Bengals are on the COVID list. And Tavon Young (concussion) didn't practice Wednesday.
That leaves them with Anthony Averett, a 2018 fourth-rounder, and Kevon Seymour, a five-year vet on his fourth team. Averett has a career-high 13 starts this season and Seymour has five NFL starts with his last one four years ago.
As expected Ravens head coach John Harbaugh provided no updates on quarterback Lamar Jackson (ankle). Jackson got hurt early two weeks ago against Cleveland and didn't play last week against Green bay. Both losses. Jackson didn't practice Wednesday, but the Bengals fully expect him to play.
Two defensive starters, outside linebacker/ pass rusher Justin Houston and strong safety Chuck Clark, are on the COVID list. So is rotational rusher Pernell McPhee.
Meanwhile, Awuzie is the only Bengal on the COVID list while four Bengals didn't practice. Middle linebacker Logan Wilson (shoulder) has been ruled out for a third straight week and last Sunday's hero, defensive end Khalid Kareem (concussion) didn't work. Neither did nose tackle D.J. Reader (knee) and tight end Drew Sample (foot), but they figure to be able to go.
Running back Joe Mixon (ankle) went full and right guard Hakeem Adeniji (ankle) was limited.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN EXPECTING: Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is always one of the leading blitzers in the league and this year they're third with 177 pressures. But according to Pro Football Focus, they blitzed Aaron Rodgers' just twice in the 31-30 loss to the Packers last Sunday. They're also a heavy man-to-man team, but they blanketed Packers All-Pro receiver Davante Adams in all sorts of coverages and despite all their injuries back there they held him to six catches for 44 yards. Remember, Adams had 206 yards against a healthy Bengals secondary.
Also, too, remember that while rookie Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase ripped the Ravens man to-man for 201 yards back on Oct. 24, tight end C.J. Uzomah had his second two-touchdown game of the season and career.
"We have to take good angles, and we have to wrap up and get them on the ground," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "These are good run after the catch players, all of these guys, including Ja'Marr … but not just Ja'Marr. Tyler Boyd is good at it. Tee Higgins is good at it. Uzomah is good at it; one of the most underrated tight ends in the league is Uzomah."
With their reduced personnel, Uzomah isn't sure what Baltimore is going to do. He was stunned how they draped Adams.
"I'm not sure if they'll play that exact thing to us, who knows," Uzomah said. "That was crazy. I had seen it when people did that to Megatron when I was a little kid, I vaguely remember it, my dad was like that's crazy. Other than that no. That's a respect thing, they respect him. We'll see if they do that to us
".We're ready for everything. They played the Packers a little bit differently than they've been playing teams before because of people that have had to step up and step in. Just their coverage they were playing on Adams and things like that. We're expecting everything. We're expecting the Ravens' usual style of defense and we're also expecting mixing in things that if they do something differently then we have to be able to react to that. We're playing it both ways, for sure."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: With Awuzie out, cornerback Trae Waynes played 69 snaps in his first game in more than two months last Sunday and the Mile High altitude didn't seem impact him.
"Didn't surprise me. He's been talking about this opportunity for the longest," Hilton said. "He's missed a lot of games over these two years, so for him to get his feet wet and pretty much play the whole game. That's a good sign for him and for us. He's a guy we are going to rely on to finish out and help us win these last three games." …
The NFL suspended rookie wide receiver Pooka Williams, Jr., from the practice squad for violating the NFL Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances. Williams, who has played in one game this season, is eligible to return the Monday after the Jan. 2 game against the Chiefs.
A look back at the Bengals-Ravens series through the years with games in Cincinnati, Ohio.