The Cincinnati Bengals already have clinched the AFC North Division, but there is another race for first place that may not be decided until the final seconds of Sunday’s game against Baltimore.
Defensive ends Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry head into the regular-season finale tied for the team lead in sacks with 7.5 each.
And unlike their offensive counterparts, who not only don’t like talking about their stats but claim not even to know what they are, Wallace and Gilberry are fully aware of their own stats, as well as each other’s.
“We’re tied with 7.5 each and it’s coming right down to the wire,” Dunlap said. “We’ll find out Sunday who gets the belt.”
Gilberry said the competition is spirited.
“It’s not even friendly,” Gilberry joked. “We hold no punches back. Mike (Johnson), Carlos, anybody. We’re talking crap. Everybody wants to be the big dog. We enjoy it. It brings out the competition, brings out the best in us.”
Their next closest competition is Vinny Rey with four sacks. Vontaze Burfict, Domata Peko and Johnson each have three.
Geno Atkins, who led the team last year with 12.5, had 6.5 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury in Week 9.
The 7.5 sacks are a career high for Gilberry, while Dunlap is still two shy of the career-best 9.5 he posted while leading the team as a rookie in 2010.
Pro Bowl picks: Wide receiver A.J. Green and Burfict, a linebacker, were named to the Pro Bowl on Friday, with quarterback Andy Dalton and offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth selected as alternates.
It’s the third consecutive selection for Green, the first for Burfict.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” Burfict said. “All that hard work that I’ve put in, and it’s going noticed. I love my teammates. They’re the ones that make me work hard every day I come to the stadium. I got in through the back door. I worked so hard. I came in undrafted. I’ve had to come and work ever since I’ve been in here.
“I’ve learned so much about the NFL and learned so much about the game.”
Burfict, who enters the season finale as the leading tackler in the NFL with 157, is the first Bengals linebacker to make the Pro Bowl since Jim LeClair in 1976.
“It’s a great honor for both our guys, and it’s especially great for Vontaze,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “Everyone knows what an exceptional player A.J. continues to be, and we kind of expect him to be in the game, but it’s very gratifying to see Vontaze recognized for the fine season he’s had.”
Injury report: Burfict was a full practice participant Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday. He suffered a concussion in last weekend’s 42-14 win against Minnesota and didn’t practice until Friday.
Cornerback Terence Newman (knee) and defensive tackle Devon Still (back) have been ruled out, and tight end Tyler Eifert (neck) is doubtful. Tight end Jermaine Gresham (hamstring), who did not practice Thursday or Friday, is questionable.
Six players are probable: Dunlap (illness), linebacker James Harrision (concussion), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (ankle), Rey (ankle), tight end Alex Smith (concussion) and tackle Andre Smith (ankle).
If Eifert and Gresham can’t go, look for the Bengals to use Smith and Orson Charles as tight ends. Charles was a tight end in college and last year as a rookie before switching to H-back this season. The Bengals also could employ some four-receiver sets and go without a tight end at times.
For the Ravens, five starters are listed as questionable: linebacker Elvis Dumervil (ankle), center Gino Gradkowski (knee), defensive tackle Arthur Jones (concussion), running back Ray Rice (thigh) and wide receiver Torrey Smith (thigh).
Backup linebacker Albert McClellan (neck) is probable, while third-string cornerback Asa Jackson (thigh) is doubtful.
Baltimore Ravens (8-7) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-5), 1 p.m., Ch. 7, 12, 700-AM, 1530-AM, 102.7-FM, 104.7-FM