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Bengals preparing for a 'playoff game in November' on Thursday night vs. Ravens

Thursday night's Baltimore Ravens-Cincinnati Bengals game was always going to be a pivotal bout. But with both clubs falling this past Sunday, the sense surrounding the game has ratcheted up a notch.

"I think it feels like a playoff game in November," Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said on Monday, via the team's official website. "Usually, when we play them, it's going to come down to probably the last possession or two. It's usually how all these games against have gone. And you're just mentally ready for it."

The Ravens beat the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 2 in a back-and-forth affair that saw Baltimore pull out the road win. The battle occurred as Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow still dealt with the calf injury that plagued him early in the season.

The loss to Baltimore pushed the Bengals to 0-2 on the season before five wins in their next six games got Zac Taylor's team back in the hunt. However, Sunday's home loss to C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans pushed them to 5-4, just outside a playoff spot entering Week 11.

Thursday night's game starts a pivotal stretch for the Bengals as they face back-to-back AFC North opponents in Baltimore and home against the Pittsburgh Steelers before visiting the AFC South-leading Jacksonville in prime time to open December.

Last year in Baltimore on a Sunday night, Cincy took a late lead on a Burrow TD sneak, but Lamar Jackson had enough time to drive for a 43-yard field goal to win.

"You can picture the environment. I think that's a plus," Taylor said of last year's loss in Baltimore. "Great game. The leads changed hands there in the last minute of the game. So we know what we're walking into. Our guys will be prepared for that."

With both clubs licking their wounds after Week 10 losses, Thursday's match will be heated. It's particularly vital for the Bengals to earn the road win as they risk falling out of touch in a tough AFC North.

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