Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: CBS broadcast with Andrew Catalon (play-by-play) and James Lofton (analyst). The game will air in the Bengals home market on WKRC-TV (Channel 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Channel 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Channel 27) in Lexington.
Radio: Coverage on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game will also be aired to a national audience on the Westwood One radio network. Broadcasters are John Sadak (play-by-play) and Ross Tucker (analyst).
Setting the scene: Fresh off a win and armed with the aspiration of returning to large field of AFC playoff contenders, the 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals this week travel to Jacksonville to take on the 4-3 Jaguars on Sunday afternoon at EverBank Field.
Last week, in a gut-check game which more than once seemed like it might put their postseason hopes beyond reach, the Bengals in the end found a way to log a 24-23 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium.
It very nearly did not turn out that way. The Bengals were staring at what easily could have been a loss, but instead came away with one of the most peculiar victories in recent memory. The underdog Colts entered the game with the league's 28th-ranked offense and 31st-ranked defense, yet dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage. The Bengals suffered a blocked field goal, they lost two fumbles with no takeaways, and they had a rookie halfback (Joe Mixon) lead the team in rushing yards with just 18 as well as receiving yards with 91. The game itself had five lead changes and was tied twice.
And the contest's most decisive play was no less unusual. Down 23-17 with just under eight minutes left, the Bengals were forced to punt and offer the Colts an opportunity to embark upon what could have turned out to be a conclusive scoring drive. But that didn't happen. On the Colts' second play of that drive, Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap conjured up a season highlight play when he batted up a pass in the Indianapolis backfield, caught it when it came down, and then outran the pursuing Colts offensive players for 16-yard INT return for a TD and the game's final points. After that Cincinnati score, Indianapolis had two more possessions to try to regain the lead, but the Bengals' defense held both times.
"The game didn't unfold the way I wanted or expected," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "But give our guys credit for doing a good job. We kept overcoming ourselves, and in the end it was a good play by Carlos with the score, and it was a good job by us overall to win the football game.
"That is what happens. Everybody plays their tails off to win, and we made plays when we needed them down the stretch. The offense had moments where we drove the ball — seemed like the length of the field a couple of times — and other moments when it seemed like we couldn't get out of our own way. We have to look at that and get better. It was the same thing defensively. We allowed some third down conversions and some completions that we can do better job of defending — I'm sure of that. Then we had the turnovers — a fumble on special teams and a fumble on offense — and we can't have turnovers like that. We're right in the thick of the season and we have to work hard at getting better."
Getting better this week against Jacksonville will be no easy task. Coming off their bye, the Jaguars enter the game ranked eighth in the NFL in points scored per game (26.1) and first in the league in points allowed per game (15.7).
Having a successful passing game, particularly, may prove difficult. QB Andy Dalton last week recorded a solid 108.8 passer rating against the Colts after completing 17 of 29 passes for 243 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. But he was sacked three times, hit five more times and generally was under duress for much of the game. The Jaguars' defense this week ranks sixth in the league in net yard allowed per game (300.3), including first in net passing yards allowed per game (161.7) and first in sacks per game (4.7).
"As long as Andy keeps doing his job and staying on point, we will keep getting better as a team," Lewis said. "We just have to keep making sure that everyone around him is playing up to his standard all the time."
If Bengals fans breathed a collective sigh of relief after last week's win over Indianapolis, they may be holding their collective breath in anticipation of this week's matchup with Jacksonville. On the line for Cincinnati is a .500 record and perhaps the welcomed opportunity to launch the season's second half with a renewed enthusiasm.
"We have our work cut out for us," Lewis said. "We've seen a lot of the Jaguars (on video) because our division plays their division this year. I've been very impressed with the guys they have and what they've been getting done."
The series: The Jaguars lead 11-9, but the Bengals have won the last four meetings, most recently 33-23 at Paul Brown Stadium in 2014. The Bengals also won at Jacksonville in 2012 and '11, and at Paul Brown Stadium in '08. The last Jaguars win was 23-20 at Jacksonville in 2005. The Jaguars lead 7-3 as the home team.
The Bengals and Jaguars were rivals in the AFC Central Division from 1995 through 2001, playing twice each season. This week's game is their seventh meeting since the 2002 realignment that put Cincinnati in the AFC North and Jacksonville in the AFC South.
Team bests from the series:
Bengals — MOST POINTS: 33, in a 33-23 victory at Cincinnati in 2014. LARGEST VICTORY MARGIN: 17, in a 27-10 win at Jacksonville in 2012. FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: 10, in the 27-10 win in '12.
Jaguars — MOST POINTS: 41, in a 41-10 win in 1999 at Cincinnati. LARGEST VICTORY MARGIN: 31, in the 41-10 win in '99. FEWEST POINTS ALLOWED: 0, in a 13-0 win at Jacksonville in 2000.
Records vs. Jaguars:
- On Dec. 9, 2001 at Paul Brown Stadium, the Bengals tied the club record with eight sacks, all against Jacksonville's Mark Brunell. Cincinnati's other eight-sack game was at Pittsburgh on 10-16-94.
- On Oct. 9, 2005 in Jacksonville, Bengals P Kyle Larson recorded the longest punt in team history — 75 yards. That record was later tied by Kevin Huber on Dec. 1, 2013 at San Diego.
- The most receptions the Bengals have given up in a single game to a single receiver came on Jan. 2, 2000 in Jacksonville, when Jimmy Smith hauled in 14 catches for 165 yards.
Individually vs. Jaguars: Past offensive performances by current Cincinnati players against Jacksonville include:
- QB Andy Dalton: Three games; 3-0 W-L record; 60-of-95 passing (63.2 percent) for 656 yards (218.7 per game) with six TDs and four INTs (87.0 rating); Eight-for-16 rushing (2.0) with one TD.
- WR A.J. Green: Three games; 14-for-251 receiving (17.9 per catch, 83.7 per game) and three TDs.
- HB Cedric Peerman: Three games; Six-for-57 rushing (9.5); Two receptions for 22 yards (11.0).
- H-Back Ryan Hewitt: One-for-seven receiving.
- HB Jeremy Hill: One game; 24-for-154 rushing (6.4) with two TDs; One reception for nine yards.
Bengals career records watch: Here is a look at potential upcoming movement in the Bengals' career records book (regular season).
- QB Andy Dalton has 153 career TD passes, one shy of QB Carson Palmer (154) for third place all-time. QB Ken Anderson (197) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- Dalton also has 22 career 300-yard passing games, one shy of the Bengals' all-time leader, QB Boomer Esiason (23).
- Dalton also has 2058 career completions, 596 behind the Bengals' career leader, Anderson (2654). This season, Dalton passed Esiason (2015) for third place all-time in Game 5, Oct. 8 vs. Buffalo, and then Palmer (2024) for second place in Game 6, Oct. 22 at Pittsburgh.
- Dalton also has 23,817 career passing yards, 3332 shy of Esiason (27,149) for second place all-time. Anderson (32,838) is the Bengals' all-time leader. Dalton passed Palmer (22,694) for third place all-time in Game 3, Sept. 24 at Green Bay.
- Dalton also has 3278 career passing attempts, 286 shy of Esiason (3564) for second place all-time. Anderson (4475) is the Bengals' all-time leader. Dalton passed Palmer (3217) for third place all-time in Game 5, Oct. 8 vs. Buffalo.
- WR A.J. Green has 53 career TDs, tied with WR Isaac Curtis for fifth place all-time. FB Pete Johnson (70) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- Green also has 53 career receiving TDs, tied with WR Isaac Curtis for third place all-time. WR Chad Johnson (66) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- Green also has 519 career receptions, 11 shy of WR Carl Pickens (530) for second place all-time. Johnson (751) is the Bengals' all-time leader. Green passed WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (507) for third place all-time in Game 5, Oct. 8 vs. Buffalo.
- Green has 30 career 100-yard receiving games, one shy of the Bengals' all-time leader, Johnson (31).
- HB Jeremy Hill has 29 career rushing TDs, eight shy of HB James Brooks and FB Larry Kinnebrew (37 each) for fourth place all-time. FB Pete Johnson (64) is the all-time leader.
- P Kevin Huber has 29,065 career punting yards, 242 shy of P Pat McInally (29,307) for second place all-time. P Lee Johnson (32,196) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- CB Adam Jones has 1065 career punt return yards as a Bengal, 136 shy of CB Lemar Parrish (1201) for third place all-time. WR Brandon Tate (1411) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- Jones also has one punt return for a TD as a Bengal. One more would tie him for second-most all-time with WR Peter Warrick, WR Craig Yeast and CB Mitchell Price (each with two). Parrish (four) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- DE Carlos Dunlap has 59 career sacks, tied with DE Ross Browner for third place all-time. DE Eddie Edwards (83.5) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
- DT Geno Atkins has 57 career sacks, two shy of Dunlap and Browner (59) for third place all-time. Edwards (83.5) is the Bengals' all-time leader.
Bengals' road offense perfect in red zone: Scoring on the road can be difficult for any offense, and so is scoring TDs in the red zone. But the Bengals have managed perfection when combining both of those challenges, scoring TDs on all seven of their trips into the red zone as the road team this season. No other team has done so, with the Jets (six of seven), Buccaneers (six of eight) and Raiders (five of seven) coming closest.
The Bengals were two-for-two scoring TDs in the red-zone in Game 3 at Green Bay, three-for-three in Game 4 at Cleveland, and two-for-two in Game 6 at Pittsburgh.
Overall, Cincinnati ranks tied for 25th in scoring TDs in the red zone, reaching the end zone in nine of its 20 trips (45 percent).
The Bengals' opponent this week, the Jaguars, rank tied for fifth in the NFL in red-zone defense, having allowed touchdowns on 40 percent of their opponents' red-zone possessions (six out of 15).
Bengals' defense locks down the red zone: The Bengals currently lead the league in red-zone defense, allowing touchdowns on only 33.3 percent of opponent's trips into the red zone (eight of 24). Opponents have come away with points on 91.7 percent of their trips to the red zone (14 FGs, eight TDs). Over the last four games, the Bengals have allowed just four touchdowns in 15 opponent trips into the red zone.
Last week vs. Indianapolis, the Colts scored one TD and three FGs in their four red-zone trips.
The Jaguars enter this weekend's game ranked tied for sixth in red-zone offense, scoring 12 TDs in 20 trips.
Bengals-Jaguars connections: Bengals DE Chris Smith entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick (159th overall) of the Jaguars in 2014 and was with the team through the '16 season. Cincinnati traded to acquire Smith on April 11 ... Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap played at the University of Florida ... Bengals QB Jeff Driskel (Reserve/Injured) is from Oviedo, Fla., and played four seasons at the University of Florida, before transferring to Louisiana Tech University ...Bengals CB Josh Shaw played two seasons at the University of Florida, before transferring to the University of Southern California ... Bengals WR Kermit Whitfield (practice squad) is from Orlando, Fla., and played at Florida State University ... Jaguars LB Blair Brown played at Ohio University ... Jaguars S Barry Church played at the University of Toledo ... Jaguars WR Keenan Cole is from Louisville, Ky., and played at Kentucky Wesleyan College ... Jaguars OL Patrick Omameh is from Columbus, Ohio (St. Francis DeSales High School) ... Jaguars DE Dawuane Smoot is from Groveport, Ohio (Groveport Madison High School) ... Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther coached at Jacksonville University in 1997 ... Jaguars assistant special teams coordinator Mike Mallory was born in Bowling Green, Ohio, and coached at the University of Louisville in 2007 ... Jaguars running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley coached at Ohio Northern University in 2008.
Uniform watch: The Bengals are scheduled to wear white jerseys and white pants this week at Jacksonville.