Here's the latest in numbers and notes for the unbeaten Bengals, who seek a 4-0 start to the season with another win on Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs (1-2).
First and foremost, the Bengals are looking to stretch their one-and-a-half-game lead in the AFC North Division to two full games following Baltimore's first win of the season Thursday over the Ben Roethlisbergerless Steelers.
Pittsburgh will close the week 2-2. Cincinnati, already two games ahead of the Steelers in the loss column, is two games ahead of Cleveland and two and a half ahead of the Ravens (1-3) who were 0-3 for the first time in franchise history. Cincinnati is 3-0 for the second year in a row.
No matter how you look at it, the Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis carry a historical edge into Sunday's game. Lewis as Bengals coach is 5-2 lifetime vs. the Chiefs. He's 2-0-1 vs. Chiefs coach Andy Reid, all from Reid’s tenure at Philadelphia. The Bengals are 2-1-1 vs. Reid, all from his stay in Philly.
Though the Bengals are neither looking behind or ahead, this is actually a reunion game for several coaches and players. Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes played with the Chiefs from 1985-1993. Defensive end Wallace Gilberry played for the Chiefs from 2008-2011. Offensive tackle Eric Winston played for the Chiefs in 2012.
Kansas City running backs coach Eric Bieniemy played for the Bengals from 1995-1998. Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce played at the University of Cincinnati. Kelce leads the team in touchdowns (two) and is a close second to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in receptions (16) and receiving yards (244).
Once the pleasantries are exchanged, it's on. The Chiefs can't afford another early season loss, especially with the Broncos starting 3-0. The Chiefs are coming off a Monday night loss at Green Bay. The Bengals want to build a divisional lead, pronto, while Big Ben is out for the next 4-6 weeks in Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati is picking up some vocal backers in the media as the season has gone along here in the early going. “Make no mistake, these Bengals are really good,” CBS analyst Steve Tasker said during last Sunday’s broadcast of the game against the Ravens. The signs coming out of the win at Baltimore were good ones. The highlights:
Quarterback Andy Dalton posted a third straight triple-digit passer rating (122.3) for the second time in his career and the first time in Games 1-3. He’s second in the NFL in season passer rating (121.0).
Wide receiver A.J. Green, with 10 receptions for a career-high 227 yards and two TDs, showed he’s still the same superstar despite having caught only a modest eight-for-108 with one score in Games 1-2.
Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, with two tackles-for-loss and overall disruptive play, continued to show he has regained the form, following a serious knee injury, that made him a first-team All-Pro in 2012 and ’13.
The Bengals lead the series, 14-13, having won the past three meetings. They lead 7-5 as the home team, including 3-0 at Paul Brown Stadium. The past three meetings have seen the Bengals win 16-6 at Cincinnati in 2008, 17-10 at Cincinnati in ’09 and 28-6 at Kansas City in ’12. The ’09 game was a 17-10 win in Game 15 that clinched the AFC North Championship for Cincinnati.
The 2003 game in Cincinnati was a memorable one, as a 4-5 Bengals club toppled a 9-0 Chiefs squad 24-19 during Lewis’ first season as head coach.
The Bengals’ first game of any kind was against the Chiefs, in Cincinnati’s inaugural preseason contest, played Aug. 3, 1968 at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus. The Chiefs won, 38-14.
The Bengals began regular-season play in 1968 as co-members with Kansas City in the American Football League’s Western Division, and the teams played each other twice in both 1968 and ’69.