Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. 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 Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analyst) and Jay Feely (sideline 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). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).
Setting the scene: The Bengals this week enter the second half of their 2019 season when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati is still in search of its first win, after starting 0-8.
“I’m not discouraged,” said Bengals head coach Zac Taylor. “It’s frustrating the way the season has gone to this point, but I’m not in the least bit discouraged with the guys. I do feel like we’re close (to getting a win). People probably don’t want to hear that, but we’re giving ourselves a chance. This bye came at the right time for us. We had a chance to take a couple days off, get healthy, free up our minds a little bit, and then come back and start the second half of the season.”
And while the Bengals did use their bye week to refresh and regroup, they also seized an opportunity to make a significant and noteworthy change. Two days after the Bengals fell 24-10 to the L.A. Rams at Wembley Stadium in London, Taylor announced that rookie Ryan Finley would take over as starting
QB in place of ninth-year veteran Andy Dalton, the team’s all-time leader in passer rating (88.0) and winning percentage as a starter (.539; 68-58-2).
“I spent a lot of time (thinking about it) the last couple of days,” Taylor said shortly after announcing his decision. “We talked about it as a staff, but ultimately it’s my decision. I’m the one that brought it up, and I’m the one that felt like we needed a change.
Against the Rams, Dalton tied former QB Ken Anderson for the team’s all-time lead in passing TDs (197). He even took the lead outright for a brief moment late in the game, but a replay review reversed what had been called a TD pass to WR Auden Tate, erasing the score from the board and out of the record books.
But while he doesn’t figure to get a shot at topping Anderson’s record in this week’s contest, Dalton said his focus has shifted to helping Finley’s transition.
“I’m going to do my part,” Dalton said of his new role. “I’m here, and so I’m going to help Ryan the best I can. Ryan was one of the first people I reached out to (after the decision was made). This has nothing to do with Ryan. He and I have been close ever since he’s been here, and we’ve built up a really good friendship. I don’t want Ryan to think I have any ill will toward him. He didn’t do anything wrong. All he did was be here, and show up and do things the right way, and they want to give him an opportunity.
“I’m going to help him out. I’ve seen a lot of football. We have a lot of division games coming up, and I understand how all these defenses have played us and their scheme. So I’ll help him from that standpoint.”
Finley, a rookie fourth-round pick out of North Carolina State, drew the attention of onlookers after a strong preseason in which he completed 73.4 percent of his passes (47 of 64), tossed three TDs and posted a 99.3 passer rating.
Finley’s first test comes in the form of the AFC North-leading Ravens, a team with a long history of stout defenses.
Baltimore enters Sunday’s matchup 6-2, after topping the previously undefeated New England Patriots at home last week on Sunday Night Football.
Turnover margin is key vs. Ravens: In the 37 all-time Bengals-Ravens meetings in which the turnover differential has not been even (1995-present), the team who wins the turnover battle has posted a 31-5 record.
Putting it another way, the Bengals are 14-3 against the Ravens with a plus turnover differential, and 2-17 with a minus. Looking at it from Baltimore’s point of view, the Ravens are 17-2 with a plus and 3-14 with a minus.
Cincinnati leads 7-4 in games against Baltimore in which the turnover margin was even.
The series: Baltimore leads the series 24-23.
Here are some series notes:
- When Cincinnati took a 23-22 series lead in Week 2 last season, it was the first time the Bengals had led the series since after the first of two meetings of 1998, when they were up 3-2.
- The Bengals have won nine of the last 14 meetings.
- It hasn’t been an easy series for the visiting team. The Ravens lead 16-8 in Baltimore, and the Bengals lead 15-8 in Cincinnati.
- Since 2010, 14 of the teams’ 19 meetings have been one-score decisions, by eight or fewer points.
Bengals-Ravens connections: Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is from Perrysburg, Ohio, played defensive back at Miami (Ohio) University, and coached at Morehead State (1988) and the University of Cincinnati (’89-96) ... Ravens WR/RS Chris Moore played at the University of Cincinnati ... Ravens QB Lamar Jackson played at the University of Louisville ...Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban was on the Bengals’ coaching staff from 2011-17 ... Bengals CB Tony McRae was with the Ravens briefly in 2017 ...Ravens DT Brandon Williams attended prep school for one year at Harmony Community School in Cincinnati ... Ravens DE Chris Wormley is from Toledo, Ohio (Whitmer High School) ... Ravens G/C Matt Skura is from Columbus, Ohio (Worthington Kilbourne High School) ... Bengals DT Niles Scott (Reserve/Injured) is from Elkton, Md. (Elkton High School), and played at Frostburg State University ... Ravens G Parker Ehinger (practice squad) played at the University of Cincinnati ... Bengals senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner was the head coach at the University of Maryland from 1992-96 ... Ravens defensive coordinator Don Martindale is from Dayton, Ohio, played at Defiance College from 1981-84, and coached at Defiance (’86-87) and the University of Cincinnati (’96-98) ... Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones is from Annapolis, Md., played at Morgan State University from 1997-2000, and coached at Bowie State from ’05-09 ... Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons entered NFL coaching with the Ravens in 1998 ... Ravens defensive backs coach Chris Hewitt played at the University of Cincinnati from 1993-96 ...Ravens assistant defensive backs coach Jesse Minter attended Mount Saint Joseph University and coached at the University of Cincinnati from 2007-09 ... Ravens senior assistant/running backs coach Craig Ver Steeg coached at the University of Cincinnati 1990-93 ... Ravens assistant special teams coach T.J. Weist coached at the University of Cincinnati from 2010-13.
Bengals turn to rookie QB Finley: Bengals head coach Zac Taylor announced at his Oct. 29 news conference that rookie Ryan Finley would take over as the team’s starting quarterback after the Week 9 bye. Finley replaces ninth-year QB Andy Dalton, the Bengals’ all-time leader in passer rating (88.0) and winning percentage as a starter (.539; 68-58-2).
After a players’ day off on Monday (Oct. 28), due to the team’s late arrival from London early that morning, Taylor addressed the change with each position group on Tuesday morning.
“I just wanted them to hear it from me,” Taylor said. “There are a lot of guys that have played a lot games, and have won a lot of games with Andy. They understand that this isn’t an easy decision, and that we’re not 0-8 because of Andy. Andy has worked harder than anyone else in this building to help us win football games. It’s just a decision I made, and I wanted to make sure everyone heard it from me before they heard it from anyone else.”
Taylor, though, said he did speak individually with veterans like WR A.J. Green, Dalton’s No. 1 target since the two entered the NFL together as the Bengals’ top two draft picks in 2011.
“I talked to A.J. one-on-one about it,” Taylor said. “He’s one of the few guys that I wanted to tell in person. He understands the position we’re in and the decision we made. They’re still there to support Andy, and they’re there to ride behind Ryan.”