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BALTIMORE — Approaching must-win territory this early in a season for quite some time, the Ravens look to snap a three-game losing streak while narrowing the gap in the AFC North when they take on the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon.
At 3-5 and trailing Cincinnati by 2 1/2 games entering Week 10, the Ravens have little margin for error if they want to advance to the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year under head coach John Harbaugh. Baltimore is trying to avoid a third straight division loss and is off to its worst start through eight games since the 2005 season.
A banged-up Ravens defense will have the tall order of slowing Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green and the league’s seventh-ranked passing game, but defensive backs James Ihedigbo (toe), Jimmy Smith (groin), and Corey Graham (calf) are all active and will play. In addition, starting inside linebacker Daryl Smith was deemed active after dealing with what was listed as a thigh injury all week.
The Ravens ruled second-year cornerback Asa Jackson inactive, making you assume they’re confident in the health of both Smith and Graham in the secondary. Rookie defensive tackle Brandon Williams was the only other player ruled inactive that could be deemed a surprise as the Bengals average 106.8 rushing yards per game despite their passing game being their biggest strength.
Former Bengals running back Bernard Scott is a healthy scratch for the second straight week and will not have an opportunity to face his former team.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will be without starting tight end Jermaine Gresham, who tested out his injured groin during pre-game warmups but was deemed inactive. As expected, rookie running back Giovani Bernard (ribs) is active. Cincinnati is already reeling from the loss of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who suffered a torn ACL in the Week 9 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Bengals are also without starting inside linebacker Rey Maualuga, who continues to be sidelined by a knee injury.
The Ravens have won four of their last five games over the Bengals, with their only defeat over that stretch coming in Week 17 last season when they rested an overwhelming number of starters after wrapping up the AFC North title a week earlier. Baltimore leads the all-time series by a 19-15 margin and are 12-5 at home.
Sunday’s referee will be Walt Coleman.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the low 60s, but winds up to 20 miles per hour could wreak havoc for both teams’ passing attacks and kicking game at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens will wear purple jerseys with black pants while Cincinnati dons white jerseys with black pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives:
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
C Ryan Jensen
WR Brandon Stokley
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams
TE Jermaine Gresham
CB Chris Lewis-Harris
LB Michael Boley
LB Rey Maualuga
C Trevor Robinson
G Tanner Hawkinson
DT Devon Still
Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Nestor Aparicio, Drew Forrester, and I bring live coverage from Baltimore throughout the day.