Reaching the halfway point of the regular season, the Bengals look to snap a two-game losing skid hosting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Bengals will have their hands full with Jameis Winston and the high powered Buccaneers offense, who enter the game 3-3 overall and are coming off a 26-23 overtime victory over the Cleveland Browns in week seven.
Here are the three things to watch.
1. Manning The Middle – The Bucs enter Sunday's game young and inexperienced at linebacker. One of the biggest storylines from Tampa Bay's win over Cleveland was the losses of Pro Bowl linebacker Kwon Alexander and Jack Cichy to knee injuries. Last year's starting strong side linebacker, Kendell Beckwith, is still recovering from ankle surgery after an offseason car accident.
That should open up opportunities for the Bengals offense to get back into rhythm and attack the middle of the field. It is a plus matchup for running back Joe Mixon to gain yards in between the hash marks and tight end C.J. Uzomah to continue his strong play.
2. Back To Basics - The Bengals have struggled with tackling in the last two games. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals recorded 11 missed tackles against Pittsburgh and 18 at Kansas City. Particularly in the Chiefs game, the Cincinnati D missed tackles often in the first half, allowing big gains on plays that could have been stopped short.
Cincinnati will face one of their toughest tests with the Buccaneers receiving corps having a variety of playmakers in Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin. Evans leads the way with 591 receiving yards and three touchdowns, while Jackson isn't far behind at 526 yards and three scores. Howard (351 yards, two touchdowns) and Godwin (308 yards, four touchdowns) are two of the better possession receivers in the league who can generate a lot of yards after the catch.
Look for the Bengals to get back to basics with a focus on improved angles and better fundamentals to slow down the highly successful Tampa Bay offense. The Buccaneers lead the NFL in total offense (449.5), passing yards (364.0) and have scored at least 26 in five of their six games this season.
3. The Quarterback Battle – This will be a fun one to watch between Tampa Bay's Winston and Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. In this matchup, it might come down to which quarterback can make plays in the red zone or at the end of the game. The team that wins the quarterback battle, is probably going to win the game.
In the last two weeks, Winston has put up strong passing numbers averaging 380 yards with four touchdowns. On the flipside, Winston also has four interceptions and four fumbles. He is a dynamic playmaker, but has the potential set his team back with turnovers and miscues.
Dalton meanwhile has been really impressive at Paul Brown Stadium with seven touchdowns and one interception through three home games. However, since tight end Tyler Eifert went down with a season-ending injury, the Bengals have scored 67 points in the 14 quarters. Cincinnati scored 117 points in the first 14 quarters of the season with Eifert.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on FOX. The FOX affiliate in Cincinnati is WXIX-TV (Channel 19). Additional regional FOX affiliates include WGRT-TV (Ch. 45) in Dayton, WTTE-TV (Ch. 28) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV (Ch. 56) in Lexington and WDRB-TV (Ch. 41) in Louisville. Broadcasters are Chris Myers (play-by-play), Daryl Johnston (analyst) and Laura Okmin (sideline reporter).
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).
Tickets: Tickets may be purchased by calling the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383, online at Bengals.com or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office.
The Bengals Ticket Hotline and ticket office will be open on Saturday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. through the second quarter. Tickets may be purchased 24/7 through Bengals.com.
Fans who purchase individual game tickets on Bengals.com or the Official Bengals app will not be subject to additional processing fees when choosing mobile tickets as the delivery option. Fans can call the Bengals Ticket Hotline or chat with a ticket representative online if they have any questions.