The Bengals begin a stretch with four of their next six games at Paul Brown Stadium when they face the N.Y. Giants who enter the game 3-7, but a half game out of first place in the NFC East and a playoff berth.
Here are the three things to watch ahead of Sunday's Week 12 matchup.
1. Smash Mouth Football – Without the Joes (Burrow and Mixon) available for Sunday's game due to injury, don't be surprised if the Bengals rely more on the run game to help with play action and pass protection. With two veterans in Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine to lean on, it's a favorable matchup against a Giants defense that was gashed for 156 rushing yards against the Philadelphia Eagles before the bye in Week 10.
Meanwhile, without running back Saquon Barkley, the Giants reinvented their offense and became even more run oriented. The run game has made significant strides with five straight 100-plus yard games and the Giants rank tied for ninth in the NFL at 4.5 yards per carry. The success on the ground has come by committee with quarterback Daniel Jones leading the way with 384 rushing yards.
2. Opportune Timing – The Bengals have a lot of young players who are making the most of their opportunities. On offense, wide receiver Tee Higgins looks to continue a terrific rookie campaign that has already amassed 43 catches for 629 yards and a team-best four touchdowns.
On defense, rookies Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Khalid Kareem have shown flashes of greatness making impact plays. The coaches are hopeful with additional game reps, they can continue to build consistency on that side of the ball.
3. Sack Race - The Bengals pass rush finally broke out of a sack slump with a pair of sacks against the Washington Football Team. They get another opportunity against a wobbly Giants offensive line that has allowed a 45.3 percent pressure rate this year. That ranks 31st in the NFL. Jones has been sacked 31 times this year, which is the fourth-most taken this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants pass rush features three dynamic linemen in tackle Leonard Williams (five sacks), linebacker Kyler Fackrell and end Dexter Lawrence (three sacks). They are one of two teams, along with the Steelers, with multiple sacks in every game this season. It's helped spark a defense that improved from 30th in points per game in 2019 to currently ranking 12th in scoring defense.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on FOX-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19) in Cincinnati, WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington, and WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus. Broadcasters are Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Laura Okmin (reporter).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7).