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2021 season preview: Lions vs. Bengals

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

Location: Ford Field

Week/Date: Week 6, Sunday Oct. 17 at 1:00 p.m.

TV/radio: FOX/97.1 FM

Previous matchup: Dec. 24, 2017: The Bengals rallied late to beat the visiting Lions 26-17.

Why this game matters: There could be a progress report after this game for which team is further along in its rebuilding program. This is Year 2 for the Bengals under head coach Zac Taylor and QB Joe Burrow, drafted first overall in 2020.

Burrow had a promising start before going out for the season with a knee injury sustained in Game 10. He is the primary reason there is hope that better days could be ahead for the Bengals in the tough AFC North.

At this stage of the season the Lions should be showing the results of a massive overhaul in the roster, and a culture change to match under head coach Dan Campbell and GM Brad Holmes. This is a fairly even matchup for the Lions in a demanding early schedule. It's a winnable game.

Bottom line for both teams: Playing well and showing progress matters. The result will take care of itself. – Mike O'Hara

Crucial matchup: Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow vs. Lions defensive end Romeo Okwara.

Burrow was sacked 32 times and fumbled nine times in 10 games as a rookie. Okwara led the Lions with 10 sacks last year and forced three fumbles. Okwara was one of just three defensive ends with at least 10 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery last season. How much can he impact Burrow from the edge in this one? – Tim Twentyman

Rookie watch: Who won the draft? Was it the Bengals for taking wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase of LSU with the fifth pick overall? Or was it the Lions, who were high on Chase but celebrated in their draft room when offensive tackle Penei Sewell of Oregon fell to them two picks later at No. 7?

Chase gives Burrow an elite target while Sewell strengthens what was already a solid offensive line. The Bengals could have used an offensive lineman of Sewell's ability, and the Lions could have used a receiver with Chase's game-breaking ability.

Fair or not, legitimate or not, the spotlight will be on the two high-profile rookies with many asking who won the draft. The best answer might be a tie. Both teams got what they needed. – Mike O'Hara

WEEK 6 · Sun 10/17 · 1:00 PM EDT


Cincinnati Bengals

Ford Field