The Cincinnati Bengals exercised some demons on the road in Week 1 and seek to continue their home dominance at "The Jungle" on Sunday when they host the Atlanta Falcons. Cincinnati, winners of nine straight regular-season home games, avoided a fifth straight loss at Baltimore with a 23-16 win in the season opener. "It's one of our goals we put an emphasis on - especially last year - we wanted to go undefeated at home," quarterback Andy Dalton said this week. "We have that same expectation. We want to be at our best."
It won’t be easy against the resurgent Falcons, who rallied from a 13-point deficit to beat New Orleans 37-34 in overtime behind Matt Ryan’s franchise-record 448 yards and three touchdowns. While facing a big pass rush all day, the two-time Pro Bowler completed 31-of-43 while engineering his 24th game-winning drive since 2008 – most in the NFL. "Whatever he had for pregame meal, he needs to eat it 15 more times,'' offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter said. "Matt did an awesome job of scrambling. He just had a really good feel for where the rushers were.''
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bengals –5. O/U: 48.5ABOUT THE FALCONS (1-0):
Ryan, coming off a 2013 nightmarish season in which he set career highs with 17 interceptions and 44 sacks playing behind a weak offensive line, was sacked just once last week. Atlanta's defense, which yielded 4.8 yards per carry and a 102.4 passer rating a season ago (both second-worst in the NFL), surrendered 5.0 yards per carry and 333 passing yards to the Saints. Atlanta did not record a sack, had two pass interference calls that resulted in 45 yards and allowed New Orleans to convert 8-of-13 third downs.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (1-0):
Dalton, who signed a surprising $115 million contract extension in the offseason, threw for 301 yards and a touchdown without an interception against the Ravens, but he failed to get the Bengals into the end zone on eight trips inside Baltimore territory. Giovani Bernard, who will test the Falcons’ leaky run defense, ran for only 48 yards on 14 carries and caught six passes for 62 more. The Bengals defense, which last season led the AFC in points (19) and yards (305) allowed per game and
was fifth in sacks (43), recorded
three sacks against the Ravens and completely shut down Joe Flacco and
the Ravens for three quarters. EXTRA POINTS
1. The Bengals lead the series 7-5 but the Falcons have won the last three, including a 39-32 triumph in 2010.
2. Since entering the NFL in 2004, Falcons RB Steven Jackson leads the league with 10,733 rush yards.
3. PK Matt Bryant provides the Falcons a late-game edge having converted from 51 yards on the final play of regulation against the Saints and adding the game-winning 52-yarder in overtime.PREDICTION:
Bengals 27, Falcons 24