Here’s what we learned…
1. The Bengals are going to be very hard to beat in November, December and January. The team is built on the best possible foundation: A brutal, in-your-face running game and a veteran defensive line that can handle the run and pass well. Both units shined on Sunday, but it’s hard to ignore a front that logs five sacks on Alex Smith.
2. Despite their record, there are parts of this Chiefs team trending in the right direction. Alex Smith was actually able to find Jeremy Maclin and find him deep. Maclin finished with double-digit catches and more than 140 receiving yards. The next portion of their schedule includes dates with the hapless Bears, the Big Ben-less Steelers and the winless Lions.
3. Now for the bad part in Kansas City: Bob Sutton’s defense has given up more than 30 points in each of the last three games, which is the worst defensive stretch for the franchise since 1987. With simple play designs, the Bengals duped a very good group of defensive players into easy coverage situations. To wit: Tamba Hali should not be manned up against Tyler Eifert.
4. Attempting to note and measure swagger in the NFL is often a fruitless exercise, but Andy Dalton seems so much more confident this year than he has been in the past. The chances he’s taking are calculated and deadly. We might be witnessing the peak of the Dalton-Green era. Dalton, for the first time in his career, has had four straight games with a 100-plus passer rating.
5. Did the Bengals provide the blueprint for stopping Justin Houston? The deadly pass rusher was quiet for a large part of Sunday’s game thanks to a smart slate of protections dialed up by offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.