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Preview: Ravens at Bears

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Josh McCown will be back under center when the desperate Chicago Bears host the Baltimore Ravens in a crucial battle of playoff hopefuls. McCown, who took over for Jay Cutler for the second time in the past three weeks last Sunday, fell just short in his bid to help the Bears rally past the Detroit Lions. That loss dropped Chicago into a tie with Green Gay a game behind the division-leading Lions.

Baltimore survived last week's showdown with AFC North rival Cincinnati in overtime. After surrendering a game-tying touchdown on a last-second "Hail Mary" pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green, the Ravens got a 46-yard game-winning field goal from Justin Tucker in the extra session to end a three-game slide. Baltimore needs to keep winning to get back in the AFC playoff picture as it still trails the Bengals by 1 1/2 games in the division and is also behind in the wild-card race.

TV: 1 p.m., ET, CBS. LINE: Bears -3. O/U: 45.

ABOUT THE RAVENS (4-5): Joe Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes as Baltimore pulled out a critical 20-17 overtime win last week, but the defending Super Bowl champs haven't won two straight games since mid-September. "They showed the heart of champions," coach John Harbaugh said after last week's win. "Where this will lead us, we'll find out." The schedule is favorable, however, as Baltimore plays three straight games at home after its date with Chicago against teams with a combined 10-17 record.

ABOUT THE BEARS (5-4): Cutler is out a high ankle sprain and defensive back Charles Tillman is also out with a torn triceps, adding to a long list of sidelined starters. McCown has been sharp in his three appearances on the season, completing 60 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Brandon Marshall continues to be the top target with 14 receptions for 246 yards and three TDs in the last two games but Matt Forte was held to a season-low 33 yards rushing last week.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Ravens are 30th in the league in rushing with an average of 73.1 yards a game and Harbaugh said he'll go with the hot hand on Sunday, whether it be starter Ray Rice or his backup Bernard Pierce.

2. Bears WR Alshon Jeffery had nine catches for 114 yards last week but had one touchdown pass overturned by a penalty and just missed grabbing another. He and Marshall are on pace to surpass 1,000 yards receiving.

3. Flacco has been sacked five times in each of his last two starts.

PREDICTION: Bears 27, Ravens 17

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/131117/preview-ravens-at-bears