By Daniel Benjamin
The Baltimore Ravens saw their season effectively come to an end on Christmas Day following their 31-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. But if you expect the Ravens to just show up and go through the motions against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, head coach John Harbaugh says to think again.
"Yes we are going to win the game. We'll play our guys. Everybody that is healthy will go play," said Harbaugh earlier this week. "That's the plan -- wouldn't look at it any other way."
That said, it appears that guard Marshal Yanda and linebacker Terrell Suggs, both of whom have dealt with injuries a significant portion of the season, will be on the field on Sunday. Suggs, who missed one game, has played the last eight contests with a torn bicep. Yanda injured his left shoulder one week prior to Suggs' injury on Oct. 9. He missed three games due to the injury and switched from the right side of the line to the left following his return to the lineup. While it is the plan for those two to play, things could change as game time nears.
Two players who are likely to miss the game are cornerback Jimmy Smith (ankle sprain) and right tackle Ricky Wagner, who sustained a concussion on Christmas Day. Smith has missed the last two games and four of the last six.
Ravens look to end four game losing streak at Paul Brown Stadium
The Ravens are the seventh winningest team this decade and have had success, at least moderately, against nearly every AFC team. Since 2010, the Ravens have had a losing record against three AFC teams, which includes playoffgames. Of those three teams, only one is from the AFC North, and that is the Bengals. The Ravens snapped a four-game losing streak to the Bengals earlier this year to improve to 6-7 during this stretch against them. On Sunday, they will look to end a four-game losing streak at Paul Brown Stadium, where they have lost 11 of 16. Baltimore is 7-13 in Cincinnati overall.
Two of the Ravens' five losses in Cincinnati this decade have been by more than a touchdown. The Ravens have been outscored 139-110 over this six-game period.
The New England Patriots (2-7) and Denver Broncos (2-3) are the other teams the Ravens have a losing record against. The Ravens have a winning record versus the Steelers (10-6), Buffalo Bills (2-1), Cleveland Browns (10-2), Miami Dolphins (4-1), Houston Texans (4-2) and Kansas City Chiefs (2-1).
Steve Smith Sr. could be playing the final game of his career
Thirty-seven-year-old Steve Smith may be playing his final NFL game of his illustrious career on New Year's Day. Smith, on Wednesday, said that there is an 89 percent chance that the game against the Bengals will be his last.
If this is indeed Smith's final game, he certainly had great Hall of Fame-type career. The 2005 Comeback Player of the Year has been to five Pro Bowls and twice been named First Team All-Pro. He ranks 12th all-time in receptions (1,028), seventh in receiving yards (14,679) and 25th in receiving touchdowns (81).
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