The Bengals return to action on Sunday Night Football looking to erase the memory of last week's hard fought loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The task will not be any easier, however, as the Bengals will be on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Here are the three things to watch.
1. Efficient Communication – With the Chiefs offense displaying a variety of formations, pre-snap motion and personnel groupings, in-game adjustments and efficient communication will be paramount for the Bengals defense to succeed.
The emphasis on communication will be pushed even more to the forefront after the Bengals suffered a slew of injuries to its secondary and linebackers against Pittsburgh. Most notably cornerback Darqueze Dennard (shoulder) and linebacker Nick Vigil (knee) are most likely out, while safety Shawn Williams (concussion protocol) is possibly out.
Early on this season the Bengals defense has done a nice job of eliminating the big play. Cincinnati has allowed only six touchdowns of 20 yards or more through six games – all passes. Having played four of the top 10 offenses in the NFL already (Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Baltimore and Indianapolis), the Bengals defense understands the challenges and areas of emphasis to come out ahead.
2. Pushing the Ball Downfield – Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has been more aggressive this season by trying to take more deep shots with the improved pass protection from the offensive line.
Dalton has been successful early this year on throws of 20 yards or more going 17 of 38 for 471 yards and five touchdowns.
With two of the Chiefs' top defensive players potentially out for Week 7 (Eric Berry and Justin Houston), the Bengals have the weapons to put points on the board. Coupled with the fact that Kansas City is the second-most penalized team this season with 50 penalties for 430 yards, the Bengals should have the opportunities needed to rack up big chunks of yardage and points.
3. The Front Four – When the Bengals defensive line is putting pressure on the quarterback, Cincinnati's unit is one of the best in the NFL.
It's been a feast or famine pass rush through six games. The Bengals are tied for 20th in the NFL in sacks with 13 on the year, 12 of those sacks coming in the four victories. Against Pittsburgh, the Bengals not only failed to sack quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he was touched only once out of 46 pass attempts.
Kansas City's offense has been terrific this season neutralizing the opponent's pass rush allowing a league-low six sacks this season. The Chiefs' possess terrific balance on offense with Kareem Hunt rushing the football (4th in the NFL with 456 rushing yards) and Patrick Mahomes slinging the ball all over the field (a league-best 18 touchdowns).
Kickoff: 8:20 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air nationally on NBC. Broadcasters are Al Michaels (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst) and Michele Tafoya (sideline reporter).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The game also will air nationally on Westwood One Sports. Broadcasters are Kevin Kugler (play-by-play) and Rod Woodson (analyst).