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Are the Bengals a 'must-win' game?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans and pundits are looking at week three as a "must-win" situation for John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens. One that they have to overcome in grand fashion to not only make a statement to the rest of the NFL that they aren't to be messed with, but to themselves to regain some of that swagger that has been present during the Ravens' two Super Bowl runs.

I think it is a resounding "YES" to that question. One that is grounded in the Ravens only having a 12% chance of making the playoffs, a loss would put that percentage to 'snowball in hell' territory. Not to mention that losing to an AFC North rival in the Cincinnati Bengals would put the Ravens not only as the weakest record in the division, it would be a major blow to tiebreakers in the unlikely chance the Ravens would be vying for a playoff spot.

I covered it before, but the Ravens were kind of expected to lose in Denver, at least not surprising if you are a rational fan. The loss in Oakland is much harder to explain and much harder to make up for since most fans had that penciled in as a win counting towards a final 10-6 or 11-5 record. However, the Ravens have routinely blown a game each season that makes you question if they suited up the waterboys instead or if they just decided to see if they can beat a team with only the third stringers. Maybe the loss to the Raiders is that game for the Ravens this season? We will know what the likelihood of that is once the final score rolls in on Sunday against the Bengals.

A win would put the Ravens back on the path again and make it look like the 0-2 start was just an false start. A loss would begin to cement in the Ravens status as a team that might need a retooling.

Personally, I think the Ravens answer the call at home on Sunday and show up in a big way. I hope that is the case at least.