Here are some themes you're going to hear this week as the Bengals prepare for the high-flying Chargers in Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium opener (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12):
-"This is just like last year when Atlanta came in No. 1 on offense for the (home opener) in the second game of the year,' said nose tackle Domata Peko. "Tough team."
The Chargers are also No. 1 after quarterback Philip Rivers lit the Lions in Detroit for a NFL-best 404 yards, just like the Falcons' Matt Ryan sifted the Saints for 448 in last year's opener. The Bengals hope they can re-live history. The next week at PBS they held Ryan to nearly half that, 231, in a 24-10 victory.
-Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen comes into the game as the NFL's leading receiver with 15 catches for 166 yards, barely 11 yards per catch.
"Some quicks. Some underneath crossing routes," said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "Some isolation routes with him one-on-one. Have to tackle again."
The Bengals DBs have to tackle these guys, but that's what they do. Go back to last season when, according to ProFootballFocus.com, the Bengals' top three cornerbacks were all in the top 49 for tackling efficiency and safeties Reggie Nelson (17) and George Iloka (27) were also ranked highly.
It's picked up where it left off. After Sunday's opener in Oakland, PFF graded Adam Jones the league's best tackling corner after a game-high 10 tackles.
"Ray Lewis. Ten tackles," Iloka said admiringly. "I heard we've got a package where we're moving him to MIKE (middle linebacker). I hope San Diego plans for that. Pacman Jones at the MIKE backer."
-Iloka is joking, but one place where Jones will be is under the MIC. As in "microscope." His roughing penalty on Oakland rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper, where he ripped off Cooper's helmet and threw down his head on it, is the talk of the league. Cooper initiated it when he illegally blocked Jones by shoving his hand up under his helmet, but Jones is lucky he didn't get ejected.
Now the debate is about walking the line. Keeping the aggression without the penalties. Guenther and head coach Marvin Lewis both addressed it with their players Monday.
"We can't have it," Guenther said. "Listen, when you are playing defense in the NFL you can't be nice. But at the same time you can't be stupid. I told the team we don't want to back down to anyone but we got to be smart. We made the thing last year about being smart bullies. You got to be physical, you got to be violent. That's what this game is; it's a man's game. Especially when you're a defender. There is a difference between being physical and violent and tough and being stupid. I always tell them more games are lost then they are won and Bengals can't beat Bengals."
Guenther warned his men that they are now on the officials' "Bad Boy Reel."
"I don't mind it," he said of being on that particular reel. "I just don't want to get 15-yard penalties. There's a difference between being physical and violent and not backing down and being stupid. You don't have to taunt a guy and get down in a guy's face." QUICK REVIEW
Tyler Eifert, who is a member of Bengals running back Jeremy Hill's fantasy team, is going to be a popular pickup this week. He leads all NFL tight ends with nine catches heading into the opening Monday night double-header. Eifert's 104 yards in the Bengals' 33-13 victory in Oakland were two yards shy of the Chiefs' Travis Kelce in Kansas City's win in Houston . . .
Quarterback Andy Dalton and old friend Ryan Fitzpatrick lead the NFL in third-down passing after the first week over second place Tom Brady. Dalton hit seven of eight for 76 yards and a touchdown for a 145 .8 rating. Four of the completions didn't go for a first down but, more importantly, the other three completions went for passes of at least 13 yards to three different receivers that ended up in scores.
Dalton hit Eifert on third-and-seven with seven seconds left on a 13-yard no-one-else-can-get-it touchdown floater at the end of the first half for a 24-0 lead. The previous touchdown was set up by a 30-yarder on third-and-seven to wide receiver A.J. Green running a slant that was as much run as catch.
The last touchdown was set up on a third-and-three when for one of the only times all day Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack beat right tackle Andre Smith outside. Dalton moved out of the pocket and while on the run led running back Rex Burkhead up the right sideline for a 24-yard gain on a nice ball he gunned in between cornerback T.J. Carrie and safety Charles Woodson. Burkhead went in motion deep in the backfield and went to the flat, but when Dalton broke out he went down the sideline. . .
Profootballfocus.com saw how dominantly cornerback Adams Jones played, grading him as the NFL's second highest corner behind Carolina's Josh Norman. After the press box gave Jones a game-high 10 tackles, PFF made him No. 1 against the run and No. 12 in coverage . . .
Meanwhile, another pro football web site, profootballtalk.com, cited sources Monday that Jones won't be suspended for ripping off Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper's helmet and driving his head into the helmet. . . .
PFF named left guard Clint Boling as one of the NFL's top two guards on Sunday, mainly for his run-blocking. His worked helped spring running back Giovani Bernard on a 28-yard run . . .
It's a mystery PFF didn't make the Bengals' Andrew Whitworth its left tackle, opting, instead for the Cowboys Tyron Smith. Working against a combination of Robert Ayers Jr., and Damontre Moore, among others for the Giants, Smith allowed only a QB hit in 71 snaps. Working against mostly Aldon Smith and about a handful of times against estimable Khalil Mack, Whitworth allowed nothing to two of the league's top young pass rushers. Sure, Smith hasn't been with a team all preseason, but he and J.J. Watt are the most productive per game sackers in the league and Mack is coming off a red-hot rookie year. Ayers came into the game with just 17 career sacks in six seasons . . .