Yesterday’s media session out at Ravens headquarters featured a lot of Pro Bowl-related talk.
The five players who were named to the AFC’s Pro Bowl team sounded excited about the honor and the opportunity to head to Hawaii to represent the league and their conference.
A few guys who came up just short of making the NFL’s All-Star game were disappointed that they didn’t make it, and sounded hopeful that someone ahead of them would drop out, and they’d be able to fill in and
Then, there was quarterback Joe Flacco, who, not surprisingly, didn’t seem to care one way or another. Asked whether he was excited to learn that he had been named a third alternate to the Pro Bowl, Flacco gave his trademark shoulder shrug.
“Maybe. But not really,” Flacco said. “It didn’t mean too much. I think if you are a Pro Bowl guy, you are. Like you said, an alternate is an alternate. I’m not really worried about that.”
Maybe. But not really. That’s Joe Flacco, alright.
Flacco’s opponent in this weekend’s regular season finale is, in a sense, the NFL’s version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Within the last year, they’ve been both a solid, physical football team and a completely inept team that looks like it has no direction whatsoever.
The question is - Which of those two squads will walk into M&T Bank Stadium Sunday afternoon?
Will we see the Bengals team that won the AFC North last year and started this season 2-1? The team that has won its last two games, including one over a good (possibly very good) Chargers team that was in the running for a playoff spot?
Or will we see the Bengals team which lost a ridiculous 10 games in a row in the middle of the season, and can’t seem to put together a smooth 60 minutes of football to save their lives?
There’s really no way of knowing.
When they’re healthy and they ... well ... feel like playing good football, Cincinnati certainly has the talent to beat almost any team in the league. Their division championship last year was well deserved, and they have now beaten the Ravens three straight times dating back to the start of the 2009 season.
They pulled out a win over the up-and-coming Browns two weeks ago to snap their 10-game losing skid, and then shocked the NFL last Sunday by beating San Diego 34-20, delivering a death blow to the Chargers’ playoff chances.
The Bengals will come into Charm City looking to follow that win up by spoiling the Ravens’ shot at a division title. The Ravens surely know by now what the Bengals are capable of, and given the fact that they could be playing under head coach Marvin Lewis for the final time, Carson Palmer and company certainly are going to be fired up on Sunday.
They could come out and dominate the Ravens yet again and earn a fourth straight win over their division rivals. They also could lay another egg.
That’s the beauty of facing the Bengals. You never know what’s coming.