Before last Thursday night, legendary sportscaster Al Michaels hadn’t called a Cincinnati Bengals victory since October 24th... 2004. It was a Monday night game against the Denver Broncos, and it was when ABC still had the rights to Monday Night Football.
A couple of years later, Michaels took his broadcasting talents to NBC and became the voice of Sunday Night Football. He was on the call for eight Sunday night Bengals games, and witnessed eight Bengals defeats.
So naturally, the first time Michaels calls a Bengals game not on Sunday night, they win.
2004 was also the last year the Bengals had won a regular season game on Sunday night. Michaels’ lack of presence in the booth probably won’t determine whether the Bengals notch their first win on SNF in 18 years, but hey, believe what you gotta believe.
These three matchups will have a more tangible impact on the Bengals’ primetime matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.
Tre Flowers vs. Mark Andrews
The very first game Flowers played in a Bengals uniform was against the Ravens. Flowers was brand new to the scheme, but he still ended up playing 14 snaps in the team’s Week 7 blowout victory. 14 snaps would fit right in with his average this year, and you can expect that to continue this week as he’ll face the first major threat at tight end this year.
Andrews is, by all accounts, a No. 1 receiving option, and Rashard Bateman’s injury only accentuates that. Two-thirds of the time he’s in the slot, and almost 100% of the time he’s getting the ball if he breaks free over the middle. Flowers was brought back to limit players like him.
Hayden Hurst vs. Patrick Queen
Andrews will be the best tight end playing Sunday night, but perhaps not the most motivated. Hurst has made it abundantly clear that he adores playing in Cincinnati and the overall fit he has within the scheme and culture. It’s obvious he feels this is the best situation he’s ever been in, considering his entrance in the NFL was getting demoted by Andrews in Baltimore right out of the gate in 2018.
Hurst will be playing with something to prove, much like Queen always will against a Joe Burrow-led Bengals team. Burrow’s former locker buddy at LSU is sporting a 48.0 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus, but hasn’t really seen many tight ends in coverage. 14 of Hurst’s 19 targets have come within nine yards of the line of scrimmage. If there was a chance to utilize Hurst’s speed as a vertical threat to attack the middle of the field, this feels like a good opportunity.
Sam Hubbard vs. Morgan Moses
Year five has been fantastic for Hubbard. His dominance as a run defender has continued, and he’s upped his pass-rushing game as well. He’s won 19% of his reps rushing the quarterback—good enough for 13th in the league among starters—and leads the team with 18 pressures. He absolutely abused Miami Dolphins right tackle Greg Little for all of last Thursday night; who’s to say he’s not feeling himself at the moment?
Hubbard showed out last year in Baltimore, and he’s got a chance to do it again. Moses was a fan-favorite for the Bengals to sign this past offseason, but the Ravens scooped him up on a modest three-year deal. The 31-year-old has been charged with three sacks allowed this season, the most for Ravens starter, and isn’t doing much better creating movement in the run game.