Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals are streaking into the postseason after a 23-17 Week 17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens that felt much like a preseason game.
The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Baltimore Ravens, 23-17, on Sunday, securing their ninth 10-win season in franchise history and the third during the Marvin Lewis era. The game was almost meaningless for both teams, which led to the contest having more of a preseason feeling.
This was especially the case for Cincinnati's offense, as it failed to do much of anything over the course of the entire game against a Baltimore defense that was resting a bunch of defensive players. Josh Kirkendall at SB Nation's Bengals blog Cincy Jungle believes the Bengals possibly ran a more vanilla offense to keep things off tape heading into the playoffs:
One could argue a determination to establish a bland-version of their preseason offense dictated the study of potential postseason opponents, which in my view is futile considering the 15 previous games showing plenty of film-study for opposing teams to glance over. But the point is fair. During Cincinnati's opening five possessions on offense, the Bengals punted the football each instance, gaining 63 yards on 21 plays, highlighted by three first downs and one possession crossing midfield.
Cincinnati managed just 189 yards of total offense for the game, with quarterback Andy Dalton only throwing for 78 yards in limited time and star wide receiver A.J. Green catching just two passes for 26 yards. But thanks to a solid defensive showing of their own, including an interception return for a score, the Bengals did enough to get the win.
Cincinnati has now won seven of its last eight games and will open the postseason on Saturday against a slumping Houston Texans squad at Reliant Stadium.