Sunday night’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals is the final contest of NFL Wildcard Weekend.
Lamar Jackson and Alex Cappa OUT for Bengals – Ravens
- Cincinnati Bengals
Concern for Bills safety Damar Hamlin overshadowed the Bengals’ disappointment at losing their chance at the AFC’s No. 2 seed.
The Bengals defeated the Ravens, 27-16, last week as a way of venting their anger. Just one week later, the Bengals will once again face the Ravens in the season’s deciding game.
If they want to defend their AFC title, the Bengals know they must first win their division. Cincinnati’s quarterback Joe Burrow and the rest of the team are healthy and ready to play. And he had to do it without his top receiver, J’Marr Chase, for quite some time.
Burrow has completed 67% of his passes while leading the Bengals to 8 straight victories.
On Sunday, he’ll have his full complement of receivers (Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd) plus two healthy running backs (Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine).
The Bengals’ offensive line is much improved from last season, but guard Alex Cappa will be out with an ankle injury.
The Bengals have the seventh-best scoring offense and fifth-best passing attack in the NFL. When the scoreboard is in the red, they rank fifth in the league.
Cappa will not play due to an ankle injury, but Higgins should be good to go by Sunday night.
- Baltimore Ravens
The “next man up” strategy has been used by the 2022 NFL Ravens for some time. The Ravens made the playoffs this year despite losing Jackson, the most valuable quarterback in the NFL.
Jackson has been the focal point of the Ravens’ passing and running attacks. When Jackson was sidelined for the final five games of the season, the team went 2-3 and struggled offensively.
The uncertainty surrounding the availability of backup quarterback Tyler Huntley has further complicated the situation for the Ravens.
Huntley went 2-2 in starts in place of Jackson but was sidelined for the season finale in Cincinnati due to a shoulder injury. Though he’s only managed a couple of light practices this week, he was throwing passes on Thursday and is still hoping to play on Sunday.
Despite being a lot less talented than Jackson, Huntley is the closest analog to Jackson in terms of running and passing ability. While we’re talking about fast things, the Ravens should have their entire backfield available for this game.
Although JK Dobbins sat out the previous game as a precaution, he should be ready to play on Sunday night. The Ravens can utilize Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Kenyan Drake all in different ways because of their versatility.
The Bengals’ tight end coverage has been poor this season, while the Ravens’ Mark Andrews is among the best in the NFL in this position.
Rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, who set a career high in receiving yards last week against the Bengals, could also play a major role in the passing attack this week.
No more Jackson. Everyone who has been sidelined, including Huntley, Humphrey, Peters, and Edwards (concussion), is expected to play on Sunday.