Bengals coach Zak Taylor has yet to officially say who will start at quarterback for his team on Sunday.
We know who won’t.
First overall pick Joe Burrow, who had held that job all season, tore his ACL last week in a game against Washington and is out for the rest of the year. That means either Brandon Allen or Ryan Finley will be on the field when the Giants face the Bengals on Sunday. NFL Network has reported that Allen will get the start, but the Giants are preparing for both backups.
While there isn’t much NFL film on either player — they have a combined eight games played, with six starts — the Giants do have an inside scoop on Allen. Their outside linebackers coach, Bret Bielema, was Allen’s head coach at the University of Arkansas.
"The tape really tells you what you need to know about the guy as a player, but knowing the guy’s mindset from his former head coach, that’s critical right there," Joe Judge said.
"[Bielema] described Brandon as this guy is a leader, this guy is going to get in the huddle and he’s going to have 10 sets of eyes that are confident in what he’s telling them, and they’re going to go out and play aggressive for him."
The Giants have a somewhat underwhelming history when it comes to facing backup quarterbacks this season. Nick Mullens started for San Francisco’s Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3 and threw for 343 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers' 36-9 victory. On Oct. 11, Andy Dalton replaced the injured Dak Prescott and led the Cowboys on a pair of field-goal drives in the last two minutes in Dallas’ 37-34 victory. Against Washington on Nov. 8, Alex Smith replaced another injured starter, Kyle Allen, and threw for 325 yards (although the Giants held on to win that one, thanks to two late interceptions).
It’s a problem that has challenged this franchise for years.
In 2002 and 2003, they lost to the Atlanta Falcons when Doug Johnson and then Kurt Kittner — who threw for all of 65 yards — played quarterback against them.
The 2007 Super Bowl champion Giants lost a late-season game to Washington even though Todd Collins completed only eight passes in his first start in 10 years.
Three years later, Dallas’ Tony Romo fractured his clavicle in the first Giants-Cowboys game. In a rematch three weeks later, Jon Kitna threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns in a 33-20 Dallas victory, Jason Garrett’s first game as head coach.
Green Bay’s Scott Tolzien threw for 339 yards against them in 2013 and Chicago’s Chase Daniel threw for 285 against them in 2018, both as backups. The Giants won both of those games.
The Giants seem more concerned about the Bengals’ receivers.
"[They’ve] got probably the best receiver corps in the league to throw to," safety Logan Ryan said of a group that includes Tyler Boyd, A.J. Green and rookie Tee Higgins.
As for that quarterback, Ryan said he wants as much information as possible.
"I definitely want to know as much as I can about the opponent. It’s kind of how I am as a player," he said.
"It might let me know how he handles pressure, how he handles adversity. Is he a fighter? How does he handle when things are going well or when they’re not going well? Tell me something to go out there to trash-talk with that day.
"I want to know what type of bubble gum he likes, you know?"