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Bengals not resting starters this week


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As we debate what the Ravens should do this week, here's a little insight into the oppositions plans.


Bengals won’t rest starters this week




Posted by Josh Alper on December 24, 2012, 5:21 PM EST

x350-34-e1356387677807.jpg?w=220 Getty Images

The Bengals are returning to the playoffs for the second straight season, but they are making the trip under different circumstances.

Cincinnati went into the final week of the season with their playoff position unsecured last season, which meant there was no question about resting starters ahead of a trip to Houston. The Bengals don’t know who they’ll play in the first weekend of the playoffs this season, but the fact that they have clinched raises the notion of pulling back on the throttle because you know there’s another game around the corner.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has faced that question twice before and he chose to rest players both times. The Bengals lost both those games, which might be part of the reason why Lewis is offering no holiday breaks this week. He asked reporters how well resting starters worked out in the past before explaining his rationale this time. Read More...

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If the Ravens absolutely, positively had nothing to play for Sunday, no incentive to win, Head Coach John Harbaugh could contemplate resting some starters and worrying only about getting healthy, turning the game against the Bengals into a de facto exhibition.


But there is a carrot dangling before them, a gain to be made, at least potentially, and that leaves Harbaugh and the Ravens no choice but to play it straight for the most part and make a reasonable attempt to win.


If the Ravens were to collect win No. 11 Sunday and the New England Patriots lose at home to the Miami Dolphins, the Ravens would jump ahead of the Patriots and secure the No. 3 seed in the AFC postseason field, relegating the Pats to No. 4. Their places are reversed as things stand now, the Pats at No. 3 and the Ravens at No. 4.


Picking up that one spot in the seeding order doesn’t sound like much to play for; it would be more of an incentive if the Ravens had a chance to grab one of the first two seeds, which offer a first-round bye.


But the Ravens can’t afford to dismiss the importance of possibly gaining that one spot. If they and the Patriots both win their first-round playoff games and then prevail again the next week against the top two seeds, the No. 3 seed would host the AFC title game.


In other words, if that scenario unfolds and the Ravens don’t move up to No. 3 this weekend, they would find themselves right back at New England’s Gillette Stadium for the AFC title game. Sound like fun?

But a title-game rematch would be held in Baltimore if the Ravens leapfrog the Patriots this weekend.



It would be so wild to have the AFC title game here but I give the Dolphins a snowballs chance in hell to beat the Pats.

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