If Baltimore has too many more performances like it did in Thursday night's 49-27 loss at Denver, then Cincinnati's path to the AFC North crown will be that much clearer.
Then again, the Bengals know all about how a team can overcome first-game blunders and still reach the postseason. So maybe it isn't best to rush to judgement on Baltimore just yet.
What you can do, though, is rush your way on down this post to check out the rest of this morning's Bengals stripes:
If you're headed to Chicago this weekend for the Bengals' season opener, make sure you take your wallet with you. You might even want to head to the bank and take out a loan while you're at it. According to CBSSports.com, Sunday's Bears-Bengals game is the most expensive ticket of opening weekend. As of Thursday morning (this article was posted late Thursday morning), the cheapest StubHub ticket to the game was $157.10. That's nearly $40 more than the next most expensive opener: Falcons-Saints. If you went to Ticketmaster on Thursday morning, you were asked to pay $120 to attend the Cincinnati-Chicago game. Don't feel like going to Chicago now? Well, mosey down to St. Louis, where StubHub tickets for the Cardinals-Rams game are as low as $15.
Where Cincinnati goes this season depends fully upon what its quarterback can do, Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty writes. There are probably few people who disagree. While Dalton's performance through two NFL seasons is certainly debatable, it's tough to argue that he hasn't been one of the more elite passers to come out of his quarterback-heavy draft class. Still, much like Atlanta's Matt Ryan, there is a concern that Dalton doesn't possess the "clutch gene." When the going gets tough in the postseason, he hasn't lifted the Bengals to soaring heights. With a perceived down division and offseason additions to his receiving corps, Dalton better take his team a step further, Daugherty posits.
When it comes to Sunday's opener, the key matchups to watch will be in the trenches. Perhaps no matchup, though, will have as many eyes on it as the battle between Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins and Bears rookie right guard Kyle Long. Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson calls it the Matchup of the Sons. Atkins' father, Gene Atkins, played for the Dolphins and Saints. Long's dad, Howie, was a Hall of Famer.
Hope you've been saving up for that trip to Soldier Field.