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Game Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

4/13/16 — Exercised option to extend the contract of TE Tyler Eifert by one year through 2017.
4/13/16 — Exercised option to extend the contract of TE Tyler Eifert by one year through 2017.

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Greg Gumbel (play-by-play), Trent Green (analyst), Bruce Arians (analyst) and Melanie Collins (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7).

Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). The first half of the game also will be aired by WLW-AM (700), until the station breaks away to broadcast the Cincinnati Reds' season finale.

The game also will air nationally on Compass Media Networks. Broadcasters are Chris Carrino (play-by-play) and Brian Baldinger (analyst).

Setting the scene: The Cincinnati Bengals this week travel to Atlanta to play the Falcons on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The 2-1 Bengals go in to the contest looking to bounce back from a 31-21 loss last week at Carolina. Despite the setback, Cincinnati still owns a share of first place in the AFC North Division, standing tied with the Baltimore Ravens, who also are 2-1. The Bengals, however, currently hold an edge for the top spot over Baltimore by virtue of a win over the Ravens in Game 2.

Cincinnati jumped out to an early 7-0 first-quarter lead on Carolina, but the Panthers capitalized on four Bengals turnovers and relied on the strength of a solid rushing attack that logged 230 net yards en route to the win. Seventeen of the Panthers' points — two TDs and one FG— came on drives that followed Bengals turnovers. Carolina RB Christian McCaffrey rushed for 184 yards on 28 carries (6.6-yard average), while QB Cam Newton added two rushing touchdowns to go along with his two passing TDs. The Panthers also converted six of 13 third downs.

Despite the statistical particulars, the Bengals still were within striking distance until late in the fourth quarter. Not until the Panthers converted a 40-yard field goal to go up by two scores with 1:16 left was the game considered out of reach.

The Bengals played the Panthers game without several starters who were inactive due to injuries. That list included HB Joe Mixon (knee) and C Billy Price (foot) on offense, and DE Michael Johnson (knee) and LB Preston Brown (ankle) on defense. During the game itself, the team lost WR A.J. Green (pelvis) early in the second half, and DT Ryan Glasgow (knee) midway through the fourth quarter. In addition, the Bengals were without LB Vontaze Burfict, who is out the first four games while serving a suspension. The injured players' statuses for the Falcons game will not be known until later in the week. 

Despite being shorthanded against the Panthers, the Bengals came away from the loss with positives to build upon. WR Tyler Boyd caught six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown. His two longest receptions — a 49-yarder and his 27-yard score — came on improvised patterns when QB Andy Dalton was flushed out of the pocket.

Also against the Panthers, TE Tyler Eifert caught six passes for 74 yards. Eifert, who was limited to just 10 total games played in 2016 and '17 due to back and ankle injuries, already has 11 catches for 141 yards on the season.

As Lewis pointed out, however, it's the defense that Cincinnati coaches perhaps will focus on most this week while preparing for Atlanta. The Bengals rank 26th in the NFL in net yards allowed per game (394.0) and 32nd in third down efficiency (24 of 46; 52.2 percent).

The Falcons lost 43-37 in overtime to the New Orleans Saints last week to fall to 1-2. They are led by QB Matt Ryan, who ranks fourth in the NFC and seventh in the NFL with a 106.5 passer rating.

The series: The Bengals lead 8-5 overall, including 3-3 as the visiting team. But the Falcons have won three of the past four meetings — at Atlanta in 2002, at Cincinnati in '06, and at Atlanta in '10. The Bengals won the most recent meeting, 24-10 at Paul Brown Stadium in 2014. 

Bengals-Falcons connections: Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick (83rd overall) of the Bengals in 2012, and was with the team through the 2015 season ... Bengals DT Geno Atkins, G Clint Boling, OT Cordy Glenn, WR A.J. Green and S Shawn Williams all played at the University of Georgia; Boling is from Alpharetta, Ga. (Chattahoochee High School), Glenn is from Riverdale, Ga. (Riverdale High School) and Williams is from Damascus, Ga. (Early County High School) ... Bengals DE Carl Lawson is from Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton High School) ... Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah is from Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett High School) ... Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel played for the Bengals from 2002-03; he entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (181st overall) of Cincinnati in 2002 ... Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard is from Dry Branch, Ga. (Twiggs County High School) ... Bengals DE Michael Johnson played at Georgia Tech University ... Falcons RB Brian Hill was with the Bengals the final seven games of 2017 and during '18 preseason ... Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor coached for the Falcons in 2003 ... Bengals CB C.J. Goodwin (practice squad) was with the Falcons from 2014-17 ... Falcons WR Devin Gray (practice squad) played at the University of Cincinnati ... Falcons G Zac Kerin is from Delaware, Ohio, and played at the University of Toledo ... Falcons defensive backs coach Doug Mallory is from Bowling Green, Ohio.

25 points does the trick: Since 2011, the rookie season of both QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, the Bengals own a 42-1-2 record (.956) when scoring 25 or more points. Only Miami has a better winning percentage, at .968 (30-1-0), when topping the 25-point mark over that span. The Bengals are already 2-0 when scoring 25 or more in 2018, after winning 34-23 in each of their first two games.