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Scouting Trip: How good are the Cincinnati Bengals?

What do we know about this Cincinnati Bengals team and how they match up to the San Diego Chargers? Not much.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It's Week 2. I have no idea how good any NFL team is, and that includes the San Diego Chargers. So, before we started talking to some Bengals bloggers and doing some film study on them, I thought I'd review the Cincinnati Bengals' Week 1 game to see how they look.

The Highlights

Not entirely sure why the NFL is so against embedding of their videos, but here you go.

It's a pretty typical highlight package against the Oakland Raiders. There's a lot of poor tackling, overpursuit, and Tight Ends scoring touchdowns against guys that never get their head around.

Not to knock the Cincinnati Bengals too much, but Derek Carr left this game halfway through the 2nd Quarter when the Raiders trailed 10-0. Matt McGloin threw twice as many passes (31) as Carr did (12) and is/was quite a bit worse than Carr.

If there's one thing we can get from the highlights, it's that the Raiders are still bad.

The Box Score

Andy Dalton completed most of his passes, threw no interceptions, and wasn't sacked once. In fact, the Raiders registered just one "QB hit" and that was by the felonious Aldon Smith. Dalton's QBR was 90, which is about double what his QBR has been in each of the last four seasons.

Suffice to say, unless Andy Dalton has dramatically changed his game, this offense was helped out quite a bit by the Raiders' porous defense.

Jeremy Hill was fine as well, getting 63 rushing yards and 2 rushing TDs on 19 carries. Giovani Bernard continues to be their second biggest offensive threat, and he got his usual big run (28 yards) in against Oakland.

A.J. Green had 5 catches for 63 yards, to the chagrin of fantasy football owners worldwide, because the bulk of the passing attack was centered on TE Tyler Eifert. Who? Exactly. Eifert was a solid pass-catching TE his rookie season, racking up 445 receiving yards and 2 receiving touchdowns in 15 games, but only played in one game last year. Let's assume he was injured and is now a super dangerous player that defenses need to gameplan for.

I don't know how to rate the Cincinnati defense. They were fine against Derek Carr, but nothing special. They didn't exactly shut down the Raiders' running game, but Oakland abandoned it and decided to try and comeback on the arm/back of Matt McGloin. The Bengals got a couple of sacks against a desperate backup QB, so....okay?

The Mystery

The worst part of the beginning of the season is not knowing who your opponent is or what they're trying to do. That's supposed to be mostly over after the end of Week 1, but for the Bengals, it's still a bit of a mystery. We've yet to see them in a tough spot, pulling out all the stops for a win. Since that's exactly what the Chargers had to do to beat the Lions, that gives Cincinnati a slight advantage.

The History

I'm going to give Andy Dalton, and Bengals fans, the benefit of the doubt here. I know that "Playoff Andy Dalton" is a real thing, but we have to include that game anyway.

1/5/2014 at Cincinnati: The Bengals turn the ball over 4 times, Andy Dalton is terrible, the Chargers score 20 unanswered points to win 27-10 in Mike McCoy's first playoff game.

12/1/2013 at San Diego: The Chargers and Bengals go punch-for-punch, but Cincy edges out San Diego with their pass rush (or San Diego's poor offensive line, depending on your perspective). A 17-10 road win for the Bengals.

12/2/2012 at San Diego: In his final month as head coach, Norv Turner abandons the running game completely. Against the Bengals, San Diego runs the ball just 9 times, all with Ryan Mathews. He picks up just 26 yards. The predictability of the offense leads to 4 sacks and 1 interception by Rivers. 20-13 road win for the Bengals.

12/26/2010 at Cincinnati: The Chargers defense was apparently left behind in sunny San Diego, as Carson Palmer carves them up to the tune of 269 passing yards and 4 passing touchdowns (and no interceptions or sacks). Somehow, starters like Antwan Applewhite and Ogemdi Nwagbuo weren't able to get it done, and the Chargers were trailing from the beginning all the way to the end. Bengals win 34-20.

So, there you go. Outside of getting a gift from Dalton in the playoffs, the Chargers haven't had a lot of success beating the Cincinnati Bengals as of late.

The good news is that this appears to be the best defense the Chargers have had in years. They're certainly better than whatever the Raiders put out on the field this past week. It'll be interesting to see how flustered they can make Andy Dalton, since they did a good job of getting to Matthew Stafford on Sunday.