Scouting the Bengals
1 The Andy Dalton/A.J. Green combination hasn't lost its pace » Celebrated as the first first-year teammates to reach 3,000 yards passing and 1,000 yards receiving last year, Dalton (539 yards, 3 TDs) and Green (142 yards, 1 TD) are on track to put up numbers just as strong in their second seasons. Dalton also appears to have more options. While Green leads the Bengals with 12 receptions, it's taken 23 targets to get him there. Meanwhile, Andrew Hawkins has 10 catches on 12 targets, including a 50-yarder for a touchdown last week against Cleveland.
2 A run of success » The Bengals' ground game is more reliable, but not necessarily that much better, with power runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Picking up where Cedric Benson left off with 1,067 yards last year, Green-Ellis has 166 yards in two games and has still never fumbled in the NFL (579 touches). With the offensive line blocking solidly, he should be on pace for his second career 1,000-yard season while providing a red zone presence. But no one mistakes Cincinnati's ground game for being an explosive one.
3 No pressure » The Ravens and the Browns both moved the ball easily and efficiently against a sloppy Cincinnati defense that doesn't generate much pressure. After finishing seventh in the NFL last season, the Bengals having allowed over seven yards per play and are third-worst in the league in yards against (434.5 per game). First, it was Joe Flacco throwing the ball for 299 yards, then it was rookie Trent Richardson rushing for 109 yards on 19 carries (5.7 per rush).
4 Staying out of trouble » For a team that has Adam "Pacman" Jones on the roster, there's remarkably little drama, for now. The Bengals aren't the team that went 6-2 to open last season. But coach Marvin Lewis will start to face some pressure if Cincinnati starts looking too much like the team that finished 3-5 and got blown out by the Texans 31-10 in the playoffs. Beating their in-state rivals helped alleviate some worries after an ugly opener in Baltimore. But the Bengals haven't looked like a team that was supposed to have improved and needs to in order to remain a contender in the AFC North.
- Craig Stouffer