Baltimore Ravens LogoIt is amazing how fast football season goes by. It seems like only yesterday that the Baltimore Ravens destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium in week 1. Now it is week 17 and the Ravens head to Cincy to face the Bengals again.

It is even harder to believe that despite losing three games in a row and having an inconsistent season, the Ravens won the AFC North and can head to Cincy without any pressure to win the game. The Bengals clinched a wild card playoff spot so essentially both teams do not have anything to play for, or do they?

As of now, the Ravens are the No. 4 seed, but they have a chance of moving to No. 3 IF they win AND the New England Patriots lose to the Miami Dolphins.

Well since that scenario has a slim-to-none chance of happening, it brings us back the question of whether or not the Ravens have anything to play for? The answer is no, but they still need to show up and play like Ravens.

On Friday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said they have a game plan, but did not share it:

“We have thoughts on it. We have a plan going in,” Harbaugh said, noting that it could change. “We have a number of guys who are banged up a little bit, and some of those guys will play and some of those guys won’t. We will go in there to win the game. We will have 46 guys active, and it will be the 46 best guys that are available to us – like always – and we will go play.”

With so many banged up players, the Ravens do not have the luxury of resting all of their starters, but they could rest the ones with nagging injuries or give them less playing time.

Coach Harbaugh did say that they will not treat it as an exhibition game, adding that the game is too important for them.

The Ravens injury report is still quite long.

Questionable players:

  • Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has a shoulder injury and is questionable. Limited in practice all week
  • Guard Marshall Yanda, questionable, did not practice this week
  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata with knee and shoulder inquires, did not practice this week
  • Wide receiver Tandon Doss with an ankle injury, missed last week’s game, limited in practice

Notable probable players:

  • Wide receiver Jacoby Jones
  • Tight end Dennis Pitta
  • Cornerback Jimmy Smith
  • Safety Ed Reed

I am beyond excited that this will be the only game of the season I can watch without having a heart attack. It is awesome that the Ravens won the AFC North and that this is a meaningless game. It will give some players a chance to rest and recover so that they can prepare for what really counts…the playoffs.

So while the Ravens need to prepare for this game and play like they mean it, the good news is that the game doesn’t matter. They will have a home playoff game next week and hopefully they will be recovered enough to win when it counts the most.

By MelissaRubin

Self-proclaimed sports junkie. Lifelong Baltimore sports fan residing in DC. Baltimore Ravens are my favorite team, I'm a die-hard fan and in constant need of a football fix. Baltimore Orioles and Washington Capitals fan too. Follow her on Twitter @egoddess1