The Bengals are a lower seed than the Ravens, but they are expected to make a stronger run in the playoffs. That's according to this week's SportsNation Poll.
When asked which team will go farther in the playoffs, the Bengals edged out the Ravens, getting 36 percent of the 7,777 votes. Baltimore received 34 percent. My prediction is both teams will lose in the divisional round, but only 10 percent agreed with me.
Here are some selected comments from the mailbag:
Michael from Myrtle Beach, S.C.: The Bengals will go farther. Baltimore is playing an emotional Indianpolis team, struggles on defense, and has a very hit-or-miss offense. Cincinnati is playing a Houston team that is struggling to both score and stop the pass. Also, Matt Schaub lacks mobility, which plays right into the strength of the Bengals defense, their pass rush. The Bengals have won seven of eight and consistently find ways to win each week, hence they are the pick to advance farther.
Anderson from Los Angeles: I believe that both the Ravens and the Bengals will move on to the divisional round. But, I also believe that the Ravens will lose to the Patriots, and that the Bengals will beat the Broncos. Skip Bayless put it best when he said that Peyton Manning is NOT a postseason quarterback, but he is the greatest regular season quarterback of all-time. The Bengals defense is playing better than any other defense, allowing 12 points over a long period of time.
Nick from Westminster, Md.: The Ravens look like the more complete team to me. Our secondary has been playing well recently. Our weakness on deffense has been against the run. We now have Dannell Ellerbe and Ray Lewis back in the middle. On offense, as long as the offensive line can keep the preassure off of Joe Flacco, he will have decent games. Really, Denver is the greatest threat to the Ravens making a Super Bowl run because of their pass rush and ground game, and the Ravens may be able to avoid playing them (hopefully until the divisional round).
Leonard from New York: I am a die-hard Ravens fan and I will be the first to admit that my opinion is likely biased--but I see the Ravens going farther in the playoffs for 3 reasons: The Ravens have better matchups,more offensive firepower and favorable intangibles. This weekend, the Ravens play at home against a rookie quarterback who has had turnover issues. The Ravens defense is as complete/healthy as it has been the entire season. The Ravens offense has been streaky, but it has generally been able to put up lots of points at home. The Colts defense will have a tough time stopping Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. How much do you want to bet Ray Rice gets his 20 touches Sunday?
Steve from Port St. Lucie, Fla.: The Baltimore Ravens are going to be the team to beat in the playoffs. With the announcement of Ray Lewis retiring those guys are going to put their necks on the line for him. No matter how far they go, hats off to his career and his family. He is the Michael Jordan of the Baltimore Ravens and deserves a statue in front of the stadium to say the least. I am a die-hard New York Giants fan, but if you ask me who my favorite player in the NFL is, I will say Ray Lewis without hesitation. He deserves a statue.
Dustin from Cincinnati: I think both Cincy and the Ravens win their first games. As depleted as the Ravens defense might be, they are still solid and disciplined. Andrew Luck doesn't get flustered much, but I think the Ravens defense puts it to the rookie. They lose to Tom Brady Brady simply because of the injuries.I think Cincinnati's defense wins yet another game for them on Saturday, but the lack of a quick strike offense helps them lose to Denver.