No matter what happens Sunday when the Bengals host the Ravens, each team's seat at the AFC Playoffs table won't really change. The Bengals will still go on the road in the first round of the playoffs. the Ravens will still host a first-round game. But both teams will continue to play as if everything is on the line in Week 17.
"I think it's important for our team to play well," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday, according to CBSSports.com. "We are going to play to win the football game. [We're playing for] improvement. Each and every time we go out. That's what we have been doing since November 4th is working to play better every time we had an opportunity to play. We've done that. We need to keep doing that."
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh also talked about the importance of improving.
"The idea is we have plenty of things to work on, and we've got to continue to improve to be the best we can be in the playoffs," Harbaugh said. "This week is an opportunity to do that."
The Ravens, Bengals, Colts and Falcons are the playoff teams that generally have "nothing to play for" this weekend. But the two former teams now say they will not rest, and I think the latter team should follow suit since Atlanta will get a week off anyway. I also doubt the Colts will take it easy in Chuck Pagano's first game back from leukemia treatment. If you have anybody on these squads, you should feel rather comfortable about using them if you need them.