Cincinnati Bengals: First look at Sunday’s game vs. Atlanta Falcons

The Cincinnati Bengals have some corrections to make on defense after suffering their first loss of the season Sunday at Carolina, but this week’s opponent likely is thinking the same thing.

Cincinnati (2-1) travels to play a 1-2 Atlanta Falcons team that is coming off a 31-27 overtime loss to New Orleans and ranks 27th in the league in yards allowed (401.7 per game) and 25th in points surrendered (28.3 per game).

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The Saints totaled 534 yards and scored a touchdown on five of their six trips to the red zone, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime, marking the first time since 1993 the Falcons have allowed more than 530 yards of offense in a home game.

Like the Bengals last week, Atlanta was playing a little short-handed as defensive ends Takkarist McKinley and Derrick Shelby were out because of groin injuries. McKinley was a limited participant in practice Friday before the loss to the Saints and may be on the mend this week but Shelby was held out of practices all last week and likely is further from return.

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On the offensive side of the ball, running back Devonta Freeman has missed the last two games because of a knee injury and remains day-to-day, but the Bengals likely should be more concerned with the Falcons’ aerial attack regardless of whether Freeman plays or not. Backup running back Tevin Coleman has 159 yards on 40 carries (3.98 yards per carry).

Behind the arm of quarterback Matt Ryan and talented receivers such as Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and former Bengal Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta ranks ninth in the league in scoring (26.7 points per game) and 11th in passing yards (285.3) and total yards (382.7).

Ryan has completed 66.0 percent of his passes for 897 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions, and Jones leads the team in catches (20) and receiving yards (329). Ridley has 210 yards and a team-leading four touchdowns on 11 catches, averaging 19.1 yards per catch. Sanu is off to a quiet start with 73 yards and one touchdown on 10 receptions.

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“I think the thing that separates them is, they do have a pass game that comes at you from all different angles,” Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said. “They have backs that can catch, the tight ends can get open. Obviously they have Julio and Ridley had a big game last week and they’ve got Sanu, so they’ve got guys all over the place, so they can dish that ball all around the field. … So it will be a unique challenge and the quarterback obviously is as fine as you’ll face all year.”


Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick (83rd overall) of the Bengals in 2012 and was with the team through the 2015 season. … Bengals DT Geno Atkins, G Clint Boling, OT Cordy Glenn, WR A.J. Green and S Shawn Williams all played at the University of Georgia; Boling is from Alpharetta, Ga. (Chattahoochee High School), Glenn is from Riverdale, Ga. (Riverdale High School) and Williams is from Damascus, Ga. (Early County High School). … Bengals DE Carl Lawson is from Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton High School). … Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah is from Suwanee, Ga. (North Gwinnett High School). … Falcons defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel played for the Bengals from 2002-03; he entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick (181st overall) of Cincinnati in 2002. … Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard is from Dry Branch, Ga. (Twiggs County High School). … Bengals DE Michael Johnson played at Georgia Tech University. … Falcons RB Brian Hill was with the Bengals the final seven games of 2017 and during ’18 preseason. … Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor coached for the Falcons in 2003. … Bengals CB C.J. Goodwin (practice squad) was with the Falcons from 2014-17. … Falcons WR Devin Gray (practice squad) played at the University of Cincinnati. … Falcons G Zac Kerin is from Delaware, Ohio, and played at the University of Toledo. … Falcons defensive backs coach Doug Mallory is from Bowling Green, Ohio.


Baltimore Ravens (2-1): The Ravens bounced back from a loss to Cincinnati to beat Denver 27-14 in Week 3. Now they head into a division game at Pittsburgh on Sunday night.

Cleveland Browns (1-1-1): The Browns collected their first win since Dec. 24, 2016, beating the Jets 21-17 on Thursday night. They travel to Oakland this week to play the winless Raiders (0-3) on Sunday.

Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1-1): The Steelers earned their first win of the season, fighting off a late rally to beat Tampa Bay 30-27 on Monday night. They host the Ravens on Sunday night.


Bengals at Falcons, 1 p.m., WHIO-TV Ch. 7, Ch. 12, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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