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[PR] Bengals Weekly Release, week one vs. Baltimore

Kickoff: 7 p.m. EDT.
Television: ESPN broadcast with Mike Tirico (play-byplay), Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser (analysts), as well as Suzy Kolber and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporters). In Cincinnati, the ESPN broadcast also will be aired by WKRC-TV (Channel 12), the Bengals’ preseason flagship station.

Radio: Live on the 24-station Bengals Radio Network, which is led by a "triple-cast" on flagships WLW-AM (700) "The Big One," WCKY-AM (1530) "Homer" (all sports) and WOFX-FM (92.5) "The Fox." Broadcasters are Brad Johansen (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Setting the scene: Why not say it? This week’s game is the biggest season opener in Bengals history. Why? Here’s a reason for every day in the week:
● On Tuesday, consider that the Ravens and Bengals have been ranked 1-2 or 2-1 in numerous published AFC North forecasts.
● On Wednesday, note that the Bengals have never before opened the season against the defending champion of their division.
● Thursday, recall that Baltimore comes off a 13-3 season, best previous-year finish for any opening Bengals foe in the era of 16-game schedules.
● Friday, feel the hunger of a Bengals team that has chased hard for playoff wins the last two seasons but has come up short.
● Saturday, be aware that Bengals fans, frankly, aren’t real fond of the Ravens.
● Sunday, ponder the 29th straight sellout at Paul Brown Stadium.
● And Monday, of course, feel the buzz of ESPN in town, for the first Monday Night season opener in Bengals history. (It’s the first one in any national TV time slot.)

The Bengals have had a tumultuous August with their roster, mostly due to injuries. The preseason games (1-3 record) weren’t too pretty. But Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis treats the preseason as pure lab-experiment, and has kept basically the same demeanor as he did during an 4-0 preseason in 2006. "We’ve put our team through the situations it needed to see, and we’ve been putting the pieces together," Lewis says. "We’ve known all along that Sept. 10 is the day we’ve been planning for. We have no excuses about anything, and now it’s time to see how we can focus and perform." Lewis has not backed off in any way from a preseasonopening statement that the Bengals "have everything we need to be one of the best teams in the NFL, if not the best team, and that’s our goal." But the season will open with challenges. Offensively, the Bengals have one of the NFL’s best skill position lineups, but the line did not get a preseason start from OTs Willie Anderson and Levi Jones, due to injury rehab. It’s hoped they’ll both be ready for the Ravens. Also, there are new full-time starters in G Stacy Andrews and C Eric Ghiaciuc. On the other side, Lewis has pledged the Bengals will be "a better defensive football team" after finishing 30th in the yardage rankings last year. The line and safety positions look improved with mixes of veterans and new talent, but the LB corps is largely unproven. On special teams, K Shayne Graham hopes to fully shake off a hip pointer that kept him out of the preseason finale.

The series: The Ravens lead, 13-9 overall, but the Bengals lead 6-5 in games in Cincinnati. The Bengals have won four of the last five games overall, including the most recent meeting, 13-7 at Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 30 of last season. The division rivals split their 2006 series, Baltimore winning 26-20 on its home turf. This is the second straight nationally televised night game in the series. Last year’s game in Cincinnati was a Thursday night contest on NFL Network. Complete Bengals-Ravens series results are on page 163 of the Bengals 2007 Media Guide.

Bengals Weekly Press Release [, PDF]