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Five Bengals Questions with Cincy Jungle

Scott Bantel from Cincy Jungle was nice enough to stop by and answer our questions about the Cincinnati Bengals in preparation for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $1,000,000 fantasy football league in week 2. The Top 46,000 teams win cash with $100,000 paid to first place. Join now!

Andy Dalton's QBR is usually somewhere around 50, but he put up a 90.0 QBR against the Raiders in Week 1. Is this a new Red Rocket, or are the Raiders just that bad?

The Raiders are not very good, especially their secondary and the Bengals exploited those matchups well. If not for a dropped touchdown by A.J. Green, Dalton's numbers would have been even better.

However, the main culprit for Dalton's drop in numbers in 2014 had to do with injuries. The Bengals were without their No. 2 receiver (Marvin Jones) and their top receiving tight end (Tyler Eifert) all year, not to mention Green missed five or six games as well. As a result, Dalton was throwing to a number of less than NFL ready receivers - i.e. his receivers in their playoff loss were Mohamed Sanu, Greg Little and Rex Burkhead (RB) and his only tight end (Kevin Brock) had a total of 10 catches in three NFL seasons.

Is it safe to assume that the Cincinnati defense, which dropped from 5th to 14th after Mike Zimmer left for Minnesota's head coaching gig, is not quite as fearsome as it once was? Or will it have a bounceback season?

While Mike Zimmer was a great defensive coordinator and his departure likely had some effect on the defense in 2014, the main reason for their drop was injuries/lack of health of their two best defenders. Geno Atkins, one of the best defensive tackles in the game was returning from a 2013 ACL tear, and while he played the whole season, he was clearly not the Atkins pre-injury. Vontaze Burfict, their play caller and leader on defense, also missed the majority of the season as a result of concussions and a knee injury.

Atkins is back 100% this season and looks like the Pro Bowl player he was before his knee injury, and when he is healthy, he is as disruptive as any tackle in the game and will command double, and sometimes even triple teams. As a result, the entire line improves and can take advantage of one-on-one opportunities. As for Burfict, he is currently on the PUP list, but all indications are he will be back after Week 6. This season, the Bengals are much deeper and much more talented at the linebacker position and therefore can absorb Burfict's absence much better than they could in 2014.

It would appear that the Bengals are incredibly healthy right now. Is it safe to assume that all 22 starters will be ready to go on Sunday?

Unlike 2014, when the Bengals were decimated by injuries (especially at the wide receiver and linebacker positions), the Bengals are very healthy this season (knock on wood). The only starter that is questionable is strong safety George Iloka (ankle), but it sounds like he will play. Iloka is a hard hitting safety that is very important to the Bengals run defense and because of his size (6'4", 225 pounds), he is very useful in covering the big tight ends in today's game. If he cannot go on Sunday, it will certainly be a big loss for the Bengals.

Who is one guy that Chargers fans may not be aware of but will play a vital role in Sunday's matchup?

Tyler Eifert. Eifert is a big talented tight end out of Notre Dame and was the Bengals first round pick in 2013. He had a decent rookie season, and was expected to have a big season in 2014 before dislocating his elbow three series into the season and missed the rest of the year. At 6'6" and 250+ pounds he is very athletic and is very similar to Jimmy Graham. He is too fast and too good of a route runner for a linebacker to cover and is too big for most safeties and corners. He and Dalton seem to have great chemistry and he is one of those guys who is open even when well covered. Eiftert had 9 catches for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 1, and if he can stay healthy, 1,000+ yards and 10+ touchdowns is very obtainable for Eifert, even with Green on the outside.

What's your prediction for Sunday's game?

The Bengals are one of the deepest and most balanced teams in the NFL in terms of offense, defense and special teams and the offense has been clicking for a few weeks now. Combine that with the fact that they are healthy and are 13-2-1 at home in their last 16 regular season home games, I am going to go with the Bengals in a close and entertaining game. Bengals 31, Chargers 24

Editor's Note: FanDuel is running a $1,000,000 fantasy football league in week 2. The Top 46,000 teams win cash with $100,000 paid to first place. Join now!