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Ravens still want to beat Bengals, even with AFC North title hopes effectively ended: ‘We’re competitors’


The NFL does not plan to resume Monday night’s game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, The Associated Press reported Thursday, a decision that effectively ends the Ravens’ chase for the AFC North title.

The game was suspended after Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed and went into cardiac arrest on the field. Doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center said Thursday in a conference call with reporters that Hamlin remains critically ill and in the hospital’s intensive care unit but it appears his neurological function is intact, meaning he can follow commands and move.

Hamlin has shown what physicians treating him are calling “remarkable improvement over the past 24 hours,” the Bills announced Thursday, three days after the 24-year-old player had to be resuscitated on the field.

The AP, citing two people familiar with the decision to not resume the game, said the league is still figuring out how to determine playoff seedings and scheduling. The NFL Players Association must approve changes, but a decision is expected no later than Friday. (Adding an eighth playoff team to the field in both conferences and giving the top two teams a first-round bye is perhaps the most intriguing among the many possibilities.)

Seedings could be determined by winning percentage. In that case, the Bengals would win the AFC North because they own a better winning percentage than the Ravens, even if Baltimore wins on Sunday.

A loss would drop Cincinnati to 11-5, which would give the team a winning percentage of .688. A win would raise the Ravens’ record to 11-6 and winning percentage to .647.

While Ravens coach John Harbaugh will not be available to comment until Friday after speaking Wednesday, a few Ravens players seem unperturbed by the notion of having Sunday’s game lose much of its significance.

“I think you’ve got to control what you can control,” free safety Marcus Williams said. “We’re going into the game just playing our best ball and getting that momentum going into the next game and whatever happens, happens. That’s an unfortunate event. So we’ve just got to take it how it is and continue to get ready for this game.”

Running back J.K. Dobbins said it would not matter if a division title was not on the line.

“We’re competitors,” he said. “We just want to win. I know I do.”

Right tackle Morgan Moses pointed out that he will be playing in just his third NFL postseason since the Washington Commanders selected him in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft.

“It’s no reason to be upset,” he said. “Look, we’re blessed to have a game this week, and we’re blessed to be in the playoffs next week. That’s most important. You can’t [be] down on the things that you can’t control. It’s out of our hands, and it’s our job to execute on Sunday, and whoever we play next week, we’ll execute on that. That’s my mindset, and I think that’s a lot of guys’ mindsets. Just focus on what’s in front of us.”

The Ravens would either claim the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in the following weekend’s AFC playoffs depending on how the Los Angeles Chargers (10-6) fare against the host Denver Broncos (4-12).

If the Ravens are the No. 5 seed, they would face the AFC South champion — either the Jacksonville Jaguars (8-8) or the Tennessee Titans (7-9) — on the road. If they are the No. 6 seed, they would likely return to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in back-to-back weeks.

If the AFC North title is indeed no longer at stake, the Ravens could elect to bench many of their starters against Cincinnati to ensure their availability for the postseason. With quarterbacks Lamar Jackson (sprained PCL in left knee) and Tyler Huntley (right wrist and right throwing shoulder) dealing with injuries, undrafted rookie Anthony Brown could make his first career start Sunday.

Other starters such as defensive tackle Calais Campbell (knee) and cornerback Marcus Peters (knee) might also be in line to get some extra rest.

Dobbins, who missed six games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in October, didn’t argue with the notion that the starters could be benched Sunday.

“Look, it’s all up to the coaches and to God,” he said. “So if I don’t play, if I do play, I’ll be ready.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.



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