The Cincinnati Bengals’ schedule gets tougher before it gets any easier.
Coming off a bye that followed a narrow win over Tampa Bay, the Bengals (5-3) now set to face another one of the league’s top offenses as Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints come to Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
The Saints are the sixth top 9 scoring offense the Bengals will face to this point, and Brees is the NFL’s current leading passer with a 120.6 rating. They enter the game on a seven-game winning streak, having just beaten the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL, the L.A. Rams, 45-35.
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New Orleans’ offense ranks second in scoring (349 points per game), No. 7 in the NFL in total net yards (402.0), and Brees has completed 76.3 percent of his passes (213 of 279) for 2,336 yards, 18 touchdowns and just one interception. He’s only been sacked nine times and hit 26 times, making him the least touched quarterback in the league.
Brees has been helped by a breakout third season from former Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas, who leads the team with 880 yards (second in the NFL) and five touchdowns on 70 catches. Running back Alvin Kamara adds 490 yards rushing and nine touchdowns to go along with 427 yards and three touchdowns on 51 catches. Tight end Ben Watson adds 292 yards on 26 catches. The Saints could be adding even more talent – they were trying out receivers on Tuesday, including Dez Bryant and Brandon Marshall.
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The Saints’ defense ranks No. 25 in the league overall in total net yards allowed per game (387.8), but they rank No. 1 against the run (76.4) – a stat that doesn’t bode well for a Cincinnati team that may need its ground attack more with A.J. Green expected to be out with a toe injury. Demario Davis leads the team with 62 tackles and two sacks while Vonn Bell adds 43 tackles. Cameron Jordan has five sacks.
New Orleans had just three players on their injury report last week and only defensive end Marcus Davenport (toe) was out against the Rams.
Bengals linebackers coach Jim Haslett was a Saints assistant from 1995-96, and then later served as the team’s head coach from 2000-05 … Saints head coach Sean Payton coached at Miami (Ohio) University from 1994-95 … Saints CB Eli Apple, S Vonn Bell, S Kurt Coleman, CB Marshon Lattimore, WR Michael Thomas, QB J.T. Barrett (practice squad) and WR Ted Ginn Jr. (Reserve/Injured) all played at Ohio State University. Coleman is from Clayton (Northmont High School) … Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater and DT Sheldon Rankins played at the University of Louisville … Saints G Larry Warford is from Richmond, Ky., and played at the University of Kentucky … Bengals QB Jeff Driskel played one season (2015) at Louisiana Tech University … Bengals S Brandon Wilson is from Shreveport, La. … Bengals H-B Cethan Carter (Reserve/Injured) is from New Orleans (Archbishop Rummel High School).
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… Saints offensive line coach Dan Roushar coached at the University of Cincinnati from 2005-06 … Saints head strength and conditioning coach Dan Dalrymple played (1983-86) and coached (’87-2005) at Miami (Ohio) University … Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi coached at the University of Dayton from 1996-98 … Bengals running backs coach Kyle Caskey coached at the University of Louisiana-Monroe from 2004-05 … Bengals secondary/cornerbacks coach Daronte Jones coached at Nicholls State University in 2002 … Saints assistant strength and conditioning coach Rob Wenning is from Coldwater, Ohio, played at the University of Findlay from 2003- 06 and coached at Ohio State University in ’07 … Saints assistant strength and conditioning coach Charles Byrd is from Oxford, Ohio, played at Morehead State University from 2001-04, and coached at Miami (Ohio) University from 2006-07 … Saints running backs coach Joel Thomas coached at the University of Louisville from 2002-03.
AFC NORTH OUTLOOK
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2-1): The Steelers are coming off a 23-16 win over the Ravens, which marked James Conner’s fourth straight 100-yard rushing game as Le’Veon Bell still remains absent. It’s a quick turnaround to this week’s Thursday Night Football game but Pittsburgh will be at home against Carolina.
Baltimore Ravens (4-5): The Ravens continued their downward spiral with a third straight loss Sunday against the Steelers. They have a bye this week to try to correct issues with their offense before facing the Bengals on Nov. 18 — the defense remains one of the best in the league.
Cleveland Browns (2-6-1): The Browns’ coaching change didn’t make a difference against Kansas City in a 37-21 loss. Interim coach Gregg Williams will seek improvement Sunday against the Falcons.