CINCINNATI -- There’s a decent chance that you've given up on the Bengals. Three straight losses may have led to alternative plans for 1 p.m. Sunday when the men in stripes have a date with the Browns in the Cleveland.
That’s certainly within your entertainment-viewing rights. But if you’re on the fence, here are nine reasons to tune in (we didn’t say they were necessarily “good” reasons):
CARL LAWSON V. JOE THOMAS
Lawson, the fourth-round linebacker out of Auburn, looks like the real deal. He has 2 1/2 sacks in three games and he wore out Washington left tackle Trent Williams in the third exhibition game.
"He told me, 'I don’t know anything about playing stand-up linebacker, but I know how to rush the passer,'" Vontaze Burfict said.
Lawson has lived up to that. He’s 6-foot-2, 260 pounds, but he’s extremely strong. In fact, he tied for first at the NFL Combine for most reps in the bench press.
The guy looks like he could be a star. Thomas is one of the best tackles in the football and should be a great test for him.
“YOU DON’T LIVE IN . . .”
During the course of the broadcast, CBS is likely to roll the video of Sam Wyche chastising the fans at Riverfront Stadium for throwing snowballs with his famous "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!" line.
It never gets old.
You’ll get to see the fastest man in the NFL Combine history, John Ross, test the Cleveland secondary.
Whoops, Ross will probably be inactive after missing practice all week with a bad knee.
Tight end Tyler Eifert will show why he is one of the best third-down receivers in the NFL.
Whoops, see the above item about Ross. Eifert hasn’t practiced all week either with a sore back.
ONLY GAME IN TOWN
Unless you have NFL Sunday Ticket, your only local NFL option at 1 p.m. Sunday will be the Bengals and Browns. You'll have to wait until 4 p.m. for the Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Chargers for your Sunday afternoon football fix otherwise.
Vontaze Burfict returns after his three-game suspension. Burfict gives the Bengals' defense an edge -- sometimes too much of an edge. The defense has been good in Burfict’s absence.
It could be dominant with him.
“To get back your leader is always a good thing,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “He knows the defense inside and out. He’s the emotional leader and brings that element.”
TDs IN TWO HALVES?
You can speculate if the Bengals can actually score touchdowns in both halves. They ended a two-game drought with two touchdowns in the first half last week in Green Bay.
But they were limited to a field goal in the second half. It doesn’t take a great deal of statistical analysis to surmise that it’s hard to win in the NFL unless you score TDs in both halves.
ZEITLER V. GENO
Former Bengal Kevin Zeitler will likely by matched up against Geno Atkins quite a bit. Zeitler is having a good year so far -- Pro Football Focus rates him at 72.3.
Atkins is having a great year. PFF rates him at 89.2, a tick below elite and fifth among all interior defensive linemen.
Even when the Bengals are bad, A.J. Green is good. He’s one fun player to watch. He had a big game in Green Bay -- 10 catches, 111 yards -- but his long was for 20 yards.
For the offense to be successful, they’ve got to use Green in the deep passing game.
WHAT ELSE ARE YOU GOING TO DO?
Leaf-raking season isn't in full swig yet. Halloween preparations can wait.
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.