When the Bengals host the Kansas City Chiefs, Saturday night, there will still be a few questions that need to be answered.
The Kansas City Chiefs roll into town for a Saturday night battle under the bright lights. Though it’s just a preseason skirmish, there are still things to look at before the season gets under way. Week 1 was a positive shot in the arm for the Men in Stripes. But, this Kansas City team boasts a defense that can be dominant in spurts. If fans want a good assessment of where this Cincinnati Bengals offense is, this is the right game to watch.
The word from training camp is all good surrounding the Bengals. Yet, there’s always that little tug of hesitation when wanting to believe that things are going great. Yes, there are nagging injuries that crop up during training camp. But, for the most part, the Bengals are looking healthy for this part of the season.
What should you keep an open mind about when Cincy tangles with the Chiefs? Let’s get into it. Most of the die-hard fans will be ahead of the curve. But, there’s always room for more on the Orange & Black.
The Running Game
Against the Buccaneers, Cincinnati did a decent job. The ground attack was enough to take some of the heat off Andy Dalton. The bright spot was the excitement around Joe Mixon and his versatility. Not only did he wow the crowd, players were amazed at his ability to create and remain elusive. He’ll be tested big time against the Chiefs’ defense. They’re no slouches and come into Paul Brown Stadium with a chip on their shoulders after a loss to the 49ers (27-17) in Week 1.
All eyes will be on Jeremy Hill. He looked good in limited action against Tampa. He ran with purpose and actually seemed to keep his feet moving. The big knock on him last year was his tendency to run east and west. That seems to be a thing of the past. But, old habits are hard to break. He’ll have to show he’s ready to rumble against the Chiefs.
If you’d like to see Giovani Bernard slice and dice the KC defense, join the crowd. But, he’s probably going to be held out for the Ravens game. He could see a couple of snaps to get a feel for the action, but that’s it.
The O-line Connection
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It’s starting to sound like a broken record or a dirty little secret around Cincinnati. Everyone knows the Bengals have the firepower to compete with the NFL. But, it’s the offensive line that has fans biting their nails.
The Bengals actually came out of the Tampa game unscathed. Yes. You read that correctly. If my aging eyes aren’t playing tricks on me, the first unit survived the first half without surrendering a sack. For the love of cheese and crackers, please stop being negative. Everyone knows it’s preseason. But, give the O-line a break. It’s still NFL caliber action and they did a decent job.
If Andre Smith is still doing his impersonation of the Invisible Man, Trey Hopkins will be on display once more. The Bengals were wise to keep his services as he recovered from a broken leg. Now, he could be the savior for the right side of the line.
The 3-Point Gang
As trivial as it may sound, the kickers have been going head to head in training camp and made it look easy in Week 1. With the possibility of Saturday’s game being a lightweight shootout, it could come down to a field goal or extra point.
Until the 2016 season, the kicking position was the last thing most Bengals fans had to be concerned about. But, after losing so many close contests that could have turned the season around, this will be something to keep an eye on.
The Bengals and Chiefs could be giving us an early preview of a playoff game. With that said, it’s a little bit more than a meaningless scrimmage in pads. January implications are an underlying motivation.