The Bengals will learn a lot about this year's team right off the bat as they head to the Pacific Northwest to face the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. Kickoff is at 4:05 p.m.
Not only is it the 2019 season opener, but also the official debut of head coach Zac Taylor. With so many new coaches and players added this past offseason, no one outside of the team knows exactly what to expect when the Bengals take the field. That only amplifies the level on intrigue with this game.
Here are three things to watch for on Sunday:
1. The Seahawks Pass Rush – One of the biggest headlines this past week was the Seahawks trading for three-time all-pro defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to help bolster a new-look pass rush. Clowney joins fellow Pro Bowler Ziggy Ansah and L.J. Collier, the Seahawks' rookie first-round draft choice, to Seattle's 4-3 scheme.
Meanwhile, the Bengals will showcase a revamped offensive line than the one that started last year's opening day with three new starters. Guards John Miller and Michael Jordan will bookend Trey Hopkins in the middle, giving the Bengals more athleticism and flexibility on the interior.
Don't be surprised if Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan utilize the tight ends more as blockers to assist with pass protection.
2. Secondary Receivers – With A.J. Green out for the opener, the Bengals' three starting wide receivers will be Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Damion Willis. Boyd is the leader of the group after posting a 1,000 yard season in 2018. After that, there are more question marks than answers as to who will be Andy Dalton's other go-to option.
There is certainly plenty of talent available at Dalton's disposal. Running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard are two of the better pass catching running backs around. The team also has one of the best field stretching tight ends in Tyler Eifert to go with C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample as more of a move-the-chain options.
Seattle is in a similar situation where they are led by one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league in Tyler Lockett. Lockett blossomed last season with 57 receptions for 965 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 81.4 percent catch rate ranked third in the league last season behind the Saints' Michael Thomas and the Steelers' Ryan Switzer.
Outside of Lockett, the Seahawks have many questions as well after the retirement of Doug Baldwin. Running back Chris Carson was talked up during the preseason about his pass catching abilities and rookie wide receiver D.K. Metcalf is another player to keep an eye on with his size and speed downfield.
3. Time Of Possession – Control the ball, own the clock, win the game. It's a simple formula, but it works, even in today's offensive-driven NFL.
Last season, of the top eight teams in time of possession, seven of them made the playoffs. Seattle is included in that group after possessing the ball for just under 31 minutes per game. On the flip side the Bengals last year ranked 31st out of 32 teams in time of possession at 27:26 and ranked last in away game time of possession.
Kickoff: 4:05 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game also will air nationally on ESPN Radio, with broadcasters Adam Admin (play-by-play) and Tom Ramsey (analyst).