Bengals: 3 Important Questions Heading Into Week 1

The Bengals invade MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Emotions will be sky high, as the nation remembers 9/11. Will Cincinnati have the firepower to tame New York?

Preseason madness is over and the real deal is a few days away. The Cincinnati Bengals will take on the New York Jets in Week 1. Emotions will be intense since the game will be played on the 15th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. Playing the game in New York will have a huge impact on the action. The Jets will be feeding off the energy of MetLife Stadium. Yikes and double yikes. 

But, there are a few questions that need to be answered about the Week 1 contest. The Bengals are coming off a successful 2015 campaign that included the playoffs. Yet, the end result was the same as years before. Making the playoffs has been a routine occurrence for Marvin’s Men. Cincinnati has marched into the postseason five straight years.

Over the past five years, the Bengals have posted a 52-27-1 record. But, those numbers lose their luster when January pops up. Five straight losses in the Big Dance have left many fans and analysts sour on the franchise. Cincinnati’s winning ways have returned, but the playoffs are still the unpredictable territory. 

Heading into the lion’s den of New York, there are glaring questions that need to be addressed. Lewis and Co. have gotten the Bengals tons of W’s and confidence. Since his arrival, Lewis has brought “real” football back to the shores of the Ohio River.

But, what about those nagging concerns that Bengals fans always have? Is there hope heading into the season? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus…and he likes the Bengals. Here are the reasons.

Andy Dalton

The Red Rifle’s confidence is high, going into Week 1. Sunday’s game against the Jets will be his first “true” game action since The Fracture. But, judging from the preseason action (which can go either way at times), Dalton looks sharp. Before the thumb incident, Andy was having the best year of his young career. He had finally grasped the offensive concepts of three coordinators. 

 

Maturity had taken control of Dalton and he was leading the Bengals to the playoffs. If the injury hadn’t happened, Cincinnati may have lived up to the hype. Instead of Orange and Navy, Orange and Black could have hoisted the Lombardi.

Dalton is out to prove a point. He’s better than what his postseason numbers convey. Dalton will be eager to repeat (and outdo) last year’s numbers and get the Bengals back to the postseason.

The Eifert Files

Unless you have no idea what or who the Bengals are, you realize Tyler Eifert isn’t playing Week 1. One of Cincinnati’s biggest TD targets will still be recovering from an ankle injury. Does that spell disaster for the Men in Stripes. No, not really. Dalton will miss the speedy tight end, but has a few other options that emerged during the preseason.

Tyler Boyd will help stretch the field. Boyd’s presence will be felt immediately. With Brandon LaFell being named a starter (with ligament damage to his hand), nothing is permanent. Boyd has been listed as Cincinnati’s No.3 wide receiver. But, he could easily outperform LaFell in two-wide formations.

Since the tight ends aren’t looking up to par, the Bengals will be using a lot of multiple wideout sets. Eifert and Co. may be banged up, but the passing game should be fine. Don’t forget the Golden Boy…Ryan Hewitt

Ken Zampese

The answer is no. Zampese isn’t a sandwich or a relative of the Zamboni machine. He’s the current offensive coordinator for the Bengals. There’s no need to worry about the offense. So far, it seems Zampese has worked out the minute kinks with Dalton and A.J. McCarron. Both QB’s look like they’re flowing with the calls.

Life without Hue Jackson may not seem as bad as many thought. The playbook has remained the same and there will be additions to the formula. Zampese has been in the fold since Dalton came aboard. Contrary to popular thought, Zampese is the common thread that will help the offense be even better than last year’s edition. 

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