The Bengals are 2-0 for the second consecutive season. They won their first three games last year, only to stumble while getting ravaged by injuries, which means only one thing: It's early.
"Well, 2-0 doesn’t matter much at the end of the year," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "We have a lot of work to do."
"We’re talking about things that we have to do better in order to be successful," Lewis said. "It’s not nitpicking, its things we must correct.”
We're not arguing. The Bengals are one of only four unbeaten AFC teams and one of nine in the NFL. They get a supreme test Sunday at 1 p.m. at Baltimore against the Ravens, who are looking for a first win after an 0-2 start. They are one of three 0-2 teams in the AFC.
The Ravens can't afford to fall three games behind the Bengals right out the chute. They can pull to within a game of front-running Cincinnati in the AFC North with a home win against the Bengals, who want to be 3-0 for the second year in a row, only with a better finish this time around.
“We say the same things over all the time. Don’t turn the ball over, defend the score, and don’t give up big plays. If you do those things, you’re going to have an opportunity to be successful," Lewis said. "Our guys have embraced that, and understand that’s how you win.”
Beyond the rookies, the team pretty much is intact from last season. Lewis said continuity is playing a role in being 2-0.
"I think it’s also a part of it. The guys are comfortable in their surroundings and what we’re doing," said the coach. "There’s not a lot of big change."
He said comfort zones can't be appreciated enough.
"We enter the season on the same level of comfort as what’s expected from them all the time," said Lewis. "That takes the angst and unknowns out. Our guys are comfortable with what they know, and what’s going to unfold."
It all started with a relatively healthy and competitive training camp, and a 3-1 preseason, success that has carried over into the first two weekends of the regular season.
"We strive through camp to keep them healthy, keep them on their feet, keep them fresh, and move forward," Lewis said. "That’s such a big part of our training camp.”
Will it be the 3-0 Bengals this time next week for the second straight season? Only time will tell. But something says this year could be different after the first three games, 3-0 or no 3-0.