Kickoff: 8 p.m. Eastern.
Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason Network with broadcasters Mike Watts (play-by-play), Anthony Munoz (analyst) and Marisa Contipelli (sideline reporter). The network is led by flagship WKRC-TV (CBS Channel 12) in Cincinnati. Also on the network are WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in Dayton, WSYX-TV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in Louisville, Ky.
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).
Setting the scene: The Cincinnati Bengals take the field for the first time under first-year head coach Zac Taylor on Saturday when they travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2019 preseason opener. Taylor and his staff face a formidable challenge out of the gate in the defending AFC West Division champion and conference runner-up Chiefs, who boasted the league’s top offense and NFL MVP (QB Patrick Mahomes) a year ago.
Taylor was hired as Cincinnati’s 10th head coach on Feb. 4, after the Bengals parted ways with longtime head coach Marvin Lewis. The last time a Bengals team took the field without Lewis as head coach was Dec. 29, 2002, when Dick LeBeau was at the helm. Close observers will also note the significance of that date because Cinergy Field (previously known as Riverfront Stadium), the longtime home of the Bengals and Cincinnati Reds, was imploded early that morning on the northern bank of the Ohio River.
Much has changed since 2002 of course, but to those familiar with the goings-on at Paul Brown Stadium, much is different from just last season. Taylor has introduced a bevy of alterations, including an expanded coaching staff, new decor in the players’ facilities, improved room configurations in the coaches’ office areas, and a new approach to team practices and meetings. Ask any Bengals veteran, and they’ll immediately note the team’s new atmosphere under Taylor.
“I think he’s done great,” said QB Andy Dalton. “From the day he stepped in here, you felt the change. Obviously he had a plan for what he wanted, and they’re doing it.” Added WR A.J. Green: “Playing with Coach Lewis, it was all about the defense. You didn’t show up the defense at practice. But at OTA No. 1 (this year), Zac was like, ‘We’re going to kick the defense’s butt.’ That’s what we like to hear on offense. I love the way he teaches. He’s not yelling at you — he’s teaching every little detail and having you understand why we run it a certain way.”
Taylor, a standout collegiate QB from the University of Nebraska who earned his stripes in the NFL as a quarterbacks coach, will call the offensive plays for the Bengals this season, and he’ll have a considerable amount of talent at his disposal when doing so.
Dalton and Green enter their ninth NFL seasons and look to continue their climb up the team’s record charts. HB Joe Mixon is coming off a 1000-yard season in which he led the AFC in rushing, and fellow HB Giovani Bernard returns as one of the top dual-threat RBs in the NFL. WR Tyler Boyd, fresh off a 1000-yard receiving season and contract extension, joins Green and a cast of young receivers poised to make their mark. TEs Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah return to the lineup and welcome rookie second-round pick Drew Sample, who was noted by analysts as one of the most complete tight ends in April’s draft. And C Billy Price, Cincinnati’s first-round pick a year ago, leads a revamped Bengals offensive line.
On the defensive side, coordinator Lou Anarumo takes the reigns of a talented group headlined by a pair of 10th-year defensive linemen in DE Carlos Dunlap and DT Geno Atkins, who enter 2019 ranked second and third respectively on the Bengals’ all-time sack list. They’re joined by a cast of young and productive players, including DEs Carl Lawson and Sam Hubbard, and DTs Ryan Glasgow and Andrew Billings. At LB, veterans Nick Vigil and Preston Brown lead a group that includes rookie third-round pick Germaine Pratt.
Perhaps the deepest area of the team is the secondary, which is led by CBs William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard and B.W. Webb. At the safety positions, Shawn Williams enters his fourth year as the No. 1 SS, and 2018 second-round pick Jessie Bates III, the team’s leading tackler a year ago, again mans the No. 1 FS spot.
The series: Kansas City owns its preseason series against Cincinnati with an impressive 9-0 record. The teams’ last preseason meeting was in 2017, when the Chiefs won 30-12 in preseason Game 2 at Paul Brown Stadium.
In regular season, the Bengals lead the series 15-14 and have won four of the last five meetings. In the most recent contest, in Week 7 last season, the Chiefs earned a 45-10 victory over the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium. The Bengals’ first game of any kind was against the Chiefs, in Cincinnati’s inaugural preseason contest, played on 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.
Bengals-Chiefs connections: Bengals DE Jordan Willis is from Kansas City (Rockhurst High School) and played at Kansas State University ...Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at the University of Cincinnati ... Bengals head coach Zac Taylor played for Butler County (Kan.) Community College in 2004 ... Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell was originally a third-round draft pick of the Chiefs in 2016 ... Bengals CB Davontae Harris is from Wichita, Kan. (Wichita South High School) ... Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy played for the Bengals from 1995-98 ... Chiefs T Dino Boyd played at the University of Cincinnati ... Chiefs running backs coach Deland McCullough briefly played with the Bengals in 1996 and ’97. McCullough also played (1991-95) and coached (’10) at Miami (Ohio) University. ... Chiefs RB Carlos Hyde is from Cincinnati and played at Ohio State University ... Chiefs LB Darron Lee attended New Albany (Ohio) High School and played at Ohio State University ... Chiefs T Ryan Hunter played at Bowling Green State University ... Chiefs S Harold Jones-Quartey is from Columbus, Ohio (Horizon Science Academy) and played at the University of Findlay ... Chiefs WR Cody Thompson played at the University of Toledo ... Chiefs DB D’Montre Wade played at Murray State University ... Chiefs TE Deon Yelder is from Louisville, Ky. ... Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is from Elkhart, Kan., and played (1993-95) and coached (’96) at the University of Kansas ... Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell coached for the Chiefs from 2007-09 ... Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo coached at Bowling Green State University from 1996-97 ... Chiefs linebackers coach Matt House coached at the University of Kentucky from 2016-18 ... Chiefs defensive backs/cornerbacks coach Sam Madison played at the University of Louisville from 1993-96 ... Chiefs assistant strength and conditioning coach Ryan Reynolds coached at the University of Louisville in 2008.