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News » Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-27

Baltimore Ravens Inside Slant 2008-11-27
If the Ravens (7-4) want to reach the playoffs this season, they can't afford a misstep at the lowly Cincinnati Bengals (1-9-1).

One reason why the Ravens likely won't fall into that trap is because first-year coach John Harbaugh has his team extremely focused.

The Ravens haven't overlooked any teams so far, going 5-0 against teams with losing records. They have beaten the Bengals, Cleveland Browns (4-7) twice, Oakland Raiders (3-8) and Houston Texans (4-7).

"They have nothing to lose and everything to gain," wide receiver Derrick Mason said.

From Carson Palmer's injury to the on-going distraction of Chad Ocho Cinco, the Bengals have been struggling in a season of disarray. Cincinnati is among the worst teams in the NFL, ranking 31st in scoring (13.5 points) and 25th in points allowed (25.1).

The Ravens have already been set as seven-point favorites, which ties their largest spread of the season (the Ravens were seven-point favorites over Oakland).

But the Ravens will have to overcome history. They haven't swept the Bengals since 2002 and have lost their past three trips to Cincinnati.

"This is a game that we've got to win," Mason said. "We understand what's going on. We see the big picture."

After traveling to Cincinnati, the Ravens' road gets tougher. They face three teams with winning records in the final month of the regular season, playing the Washington Redskins (7-4), Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3), Dallas Cowboys (7-4) and Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7).

One reason why the Ravens might not look past the Bengals is Willie Anderson.

The four-time Pro Bowl right tackle signed a three-year, $11 million contract with the Ravens just days after being released by the Bengals. The team wanted him to take a pay cut.

"Until I get there, I'm going to try to keep it as regular a week as I can," Anderson said. "But I'm sure when I get there and see the city, I'm sure there will be a rush of emotion at some point."

Judging by Harbaugh's comments, he expects the Bengals to be just as motivated as the Ravens on Sunday.

"We've all been in those shoes at some time or another in this league," Harbaugh said. "They have a game on Sunday to play for. They're going to play their hearts out just like they always do. The media can say what they want about who has what to play for, but I think the guys playing the game understand what kind of game it's going to be on Sunday."

SERIES HISTORY: 26th regular-season meeting. Ravens lead series, 14-11. The Ravens ended a three-game losing streak to the Bengals with a season-opening 17-10 win over Cincinnati. With the Ravens holding a 10-3 lead late in the third quarter, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco delivered a significant blow by scrambling 38 yards for a touchdown. The Ravens are looking for their first win at Paul Brown Stadium since 2004.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 27, 2008

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Kelly Gregg Name: Kelly Gregg
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Experience: 9 years
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