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NFL Preview: John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens playing Cincinnati Bengals for pride

Todd Karpovich, The Sports Xchange

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh celebrates after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14 at in Baltimore on Nov. 27. The two teams meet again Sunday after both being knocked out of playoff contention by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Photo by David Tulis/UPI
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens enter the regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals simply playing for pride.
That is scenario coach John Harbaugh and the players have fully embraced.
With the exception of injured cornerback Jimmy Smith, the Ravens (8-7) plan to have all of their top playmakers available for this game (Sunday in Cincinnati, Jan. 1 at 1 PM on CBS). This includes receiver Steve Smith, who could be ending his storied NFL career at age 37.
Baltimore is looking to finish the season on a positive note after missing the playoffs for the third time in four years.
"Our focus right now is on Cincinnati. It's not going to be on measuring disappointment," Harbaugh said. "That's not what we do. That's not what we're about. It's going to be going to Cincinnati and playing the best football game of the season. That will be our goal. Everybody buys into that. That's what our guys want to do."
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in 2015, had one of the most successful statistical campaigns of his nine-year career. Flacco has thrown for a career-high 4,050 yards with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
"We're professionals, that's what we loved to do," Flacco said about playing for the victory. "I'm excited about it. We're optimistic about this week. It's another chance to go out there and play the game we love."
The game will also be bittersweet for Smith, who has shown he can still make an impact despite his decision to retire. He has 67 receptions for 765 yards and leads the team with five touchdown catches and 12 grabs over 20 yards.
"Football has given me more than I probably could give football back," Smith said. "But for 2016, '17 and beyond, this is probably my last game."
Baltimore hopes to go into the offseason on a positive note. A victory would give them a winning season after last year's 5-11 finish.
Harbaugh likely will return for his 10th season in 2017 when the Ravens will look to make the next step toward a deep postseason run.
"We want to go win it," Harbaugh said. "We do want to be 9-7; it is important. It is important to have one more win than we potentially could have. I do not care what the record is. We want to go win the game. Absolutely, it is important. That is what we do this for; that is what it is all about."

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