Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis announced Tuesday that AJ McCarron will be the team's starting quarterback over Andy Dalton for Saturday's AFC Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Joe Kay of the Associated Press passed along an encouraging update from Dalton:
Joe Kay @apjoekay
#Bengals' Dalton has cast off, says he's got good mobility in right thumb, doing rehab. AJ McCarron still in line to start vs #Steelers.2016-1-5 18:23:22
McCarron filled in for Dalton in three full starts, posting a 2-1 record with four touchdown passes and no interceptions in that span. The 2014 fifth-round pick's only loss came in overtime to the Denver Broncos, the AFC's No. 1 seed.
ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler analyzed what Steelers coach Mike Tomlin had to say about the Bengals' situation under center:
Jeremy Fowler @JFowlerESPN
Mike Tomlin said he's seen "little schematic difference" with McCarron vs Dalton for Bengals. Shows CIN has gotten A.J. ready2016-1-5 18:03:07
There's reason to believe McCarron has the goods to guide Cincinnati to a home victory over its AFC North rival on Wild Card Weekend, but history is stacked against these Bengals. They haven't won a postseason game in Lewis' tenure and have lost playoff openers in each of the past four years.
The Steelers are a dangerous opponent with an explosive passing attack triggered by two-time Super Bowl champion Ben Roethlisberger.
Pittsburgh had the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense during the regular season, which should work in McCarron's favor.
It appears as though Dalton is on track to return relatively soon. If McCarron takes Cincinnati to the divisional round and Dalton is healthy enough to play, Lewis will have a QB conundrum on his hands.