1. Chiefs third-down inefficiency affected by first-down woes
If there's one area the Kansas City Chiefs want to improve most on the offensive side of the ball, it'd be on third down.
The Chiefs currently rank last in the NFL converting third downs at just 16 percent.
But part of that number improving is getting into more manageable situations with success on early downs. The Chiefs are averaging just 4.71 yards per play on first down, which ranks 28th in the NFL.
Of the 21 passes Alex Smith has thrown on third down, more than half of those (11) have been in a situation where it was third-and-11-plus to go.
It's hard to convert third downs when you're consistently facing third-and-longs.
As they face one of the better defensive fronts in the NFL this Sunday in the Cincinnati Bengals, who rank 11th in the NFL allowing just 36 percent of third downs to be converted, it's definitely one of the stats that need to improve for the Chiefs to be efficient and find the kind of success they're looking for on offense.
2. Knile Davis close to breaking one on a kick return
With the track record of special teams coordinator Dave Toub, it seems only like a matter of time before the Chiefs get an NFL-leading seventh return for a touchdown.
Through the first three games, both Knile Davis and De'Anthony Thomas have been close to busting out a big return that would put points on the board.
The Chiefs are averaging 27.5 yards per kickoff return overall, which ranks sixth-best in the NFL.
3. Strength of Bengals defense is along the defensive line
According to the find folks over at Pro Football Focus, three of the four top-ranked defensive players for the Bengals are defensive linemen—Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry.
DL Wallace Gilberry
They're led by Atkins, who at 6-foot-1 and 293 pounds, has an elite combination of size, strength and quickness that creates havoc in the middle of the trenches for offensive lines. He has 34 sacks throughout his six years thus far in the NFL.
The Bengals have five DL who have played at least 100 snaps in their 4-3 defensive scheme so far this season, led by Carlos Dunlap's 160 snaps.
4. Improving red zone, goal-to-go situations
A season ago, the Chiefs were the second-best defensive team in the NFL in goal-to-go situations, allowing touchdowns just 53.6 percent of the time.
Through three games this season, they have allowed touchdowns 100 percent of the time.
In the red zone overall, the Chiefs have allowed touchdowns 75 percent of the time this season, which ranks 28th in the NFL. Last year, they allowed touchdowns just 38.9 percent of the time that an opposing offense got inside the red zone.
While it's mostly the same personnel, it's just a matter of these guys making plays when their backs are up against the wall. It's something they've proven capable of doing and hopefully that success returns this week against the Bengals.
5. Offensive firepower for the Bengals
The Bengals average 414 yards per game overall offensively (285 yards passing, 129 yards rushing), which ranks second-best in the NFL.
Quarterback Andy Dalton ranks second in the NFL with a 9.4 yards per passing attempt average. He's completing 66 percent of his passes with 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception.
QB Andy Dalton
Receiver A.J. Green is fourth in the NFL with 335 yards receiving, including a 10-catch, 227-yard performance last week against the Baltimore Ravens that also included 2 touchdowns. That performance earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Tight end Tyler Eifert is tied for the team lead with three touchdown receptions (A.J. Green) and is second with 20 targets (A.J. Green – 25).
6. Bengals come up big on first down
While the Bengals success on offense is wide-ranging because of the playmakers they have at every skill position, their success is especially noteworthy on first down, when they're averaging 7.25 yards per play, which ranks as the best mark in the NFL.
Conversely, the Chiefs defense is allowing just 5.40 yards per play on first down, which ranks No. 14 in the NFL.
LAST TIME THEY MET - PRESEASON 2014
Photos from preseason week 1 Chiefs vs the Cincinnati Bengals.
7. Sacks allowed by the OL
The Bengals offensive line has allowed just 2 sacks through three games this season, which ties them for second-best in the NFL in that regard.
On the flip side, the Chiefs offensive line has allowed 14 sacks through three games, which is the most for any team in the NFL.
Both teams have strong defensive fronts that like to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Chiefs have 9 sacks through three games, which ties them for fifth-best in NFL, while the Bengals have 6 sacks, which ties them for 12th in the NFL.
8. Alex Smith and play-action have been a good combination
According to PFF, Alex Smith is completing 73 percent of his play-action passes with a 12 yards per passing attempt average this season.
While play-action generally affects the defensive movements of those and the second and third levels of a defense, these numbers would also fit the idea of the success the Chiefs have had with multiple tight ends on the field together.
Smith has completed 8 of 11 passes (73 percent) for 167 yards and a touchdown this season with two tight ends on the field together.
9. Jamaal Charles keeps finding the end zone
NFL LEADERS - MOST TOUCHDOWNS, 2013-15
1. - 38 - Jamaal Charles - Kansas City
2. - 31 - Marshawn Lynch - Seattle
3. - 29 - Dez Bryant - Dallas
4. - 28 - Jimmy Graham - New Orleans/Seattle
5. - 26 - Demaryius Thomas - Denver
10. Andy Reid could pass Bill Cowher on all-time wins list with win on Sunday
NFL RECORD BOOK - MOST WINS, HEAD COACH, ALL TIME
1. - 347 - Don Shula
2. - 324 - George Halas
3. - 270 - Tom Landry
4. - 236 - Bill Belichick
5. - 229 - Curly Lambeau
6. - 209 - Chuck Noll
7. - 205 - Marty Schottenheimer
8. - 201 - Dan Reeves
9. - 193 - Chuck Knox
10. - 183 - Bill Parcells
11. - 178 - Mike Shanahan
12. - 177 - Tom Coughlin
13. - 174 - Mike Holmgren
14. - 171 - Joe Gibbs
15. - 170 - Paul Brown
16t. - 168 - Bud Grant & Jeff Fisher
18t. - 161 - Andy Reid & Bill Cowher