The Cincinnati Bengals home opener is coming up Thursday night. With their AFC North rival Baltimore Ravens coming to Paul Brown Stadium. Here’s a few things to keep in mind going into Thursday’s game.
A quick turnaround for both teams
Both the Ravens and Bengals played on Sunday afternoon. With the Bengals beating the Indianapolis Colts 34-23. While the Ravens blew out the Buffalo Bills 47-3. Thursday’s game gives the Bengals and Ravens just three days between games. It’s hard to imagine that quick turnaround going into a divisional matchup not leaving an impact.
The quick turnaround is one reason why people have their frustrations with NFL Thursday night games. Especially early in the season before bye weeks are a factor. Ultimately, having a division rivalry matchup with a shorter time to prepare could add to the drama. Both teams are in the same boat going into Thursday. In more ways than just the amount of time both teams have to prepare.
How things are looking in the AFC North
Thursday’s game will be a battle for an early lead in the AFC North. After the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers played to a tie last Sunday. Sure, a team’s standing after week two doesn’t fully make or break a season. Yet, Thursday’s game will either leave the Bengals in first or last place in their division. No team in the Bengals position would want to pass up that opportunity.
Bengals to watch with Week 1 in mind
Several Bengals players stood out during last Sunday’s game. On offense, Joe Mixon and John Ross were the two most notable examples. Both scoring touchdowns while Mixon had the most rushing yards of the game. Meanwhile, Giovani Bernard didn’t leave much of an impression against the Colts. Bernard was the only player to end Sunday’s game with negative rushing yards.
On defense, the Bengals had a stellar showing in Week 1. Nick Vigil led last Sunday’s game with 11 tackles. Vigil, Clayton Fejedelem and rookie Jessie Bates all had more tackles than any Colts player. Elsewhere, Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap had the Bengals only sacks on Sunday. Shawn Williams is another Bengal to watch; he was ejected for a targeting violation on Sunday.
A chance to make a statement
Finally, the Bengals have the chance to have a statement making win on Thursday. To give NFL fans and analysts reasons to begin speculating whether the Bengals are contenders this season. The Bengals didn’t fully do that last Sunday against the Colts. Getting a win in primetime, a 2-0 start and first place in the AFC North would be three signs of improvement. Especially with last year’s 0-3 start to the season in mind.