1. Andy Dalton got his big deal. Alex Smith could be looking at a similar one. Those who agree with the deal, what are they saying? Those who disagree?
Dalton is a lightning rod amongst Bengals fans and media and is a radio talk show's dream. As a rookie, Dalton took over a 4-12 team that let go of Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens and had a QB (Carson Palmer) refusing to play. Many projected the Bengals to go 0-16, yet Dalton led them to the playoffs.
Those that support him point to his overall record (30-18) and the fact that he has improved in each of the following categories each year: wins (9, 10, 11), TDs (20, 27, 33), yards, YPA and rating. He also holds the single-season franchise record for TDs (33) and yards (4,293) and is the only QB in franchise history to lead the team to three straight playoff appearances.
His detractors point to his brutal numbers in big games, and most notably the playoffs (0-3, 1 TD, 6 INTs and a QBR around 18). His supporters like the deal and his detractors are a very loudly chastising the Bengals for this deal. I am down the middle with Dalton - he has played much better than I would have expected when he was drafted, but I still need to see more from him. The deal sounds huge, but it is structured in a pay-as-you-go type fashion. There are a lot of escalators if he wins in the playoffs, there are some outs for the Bengals if he doesn't perform, and it is overall pretty cap friendly.
2. The Chiefs have a young offensive line. Where can the Chiefs expect to be challenged on Cincinnati's defensive line?
Even with the loss of Michael Johnson, the Bengals defensive line is still the strength of what should be a top 5-10 defense and which will be a handful for a young line. The Bengals are very deep on the defensive line and like to rotate guys to keep them fresh and fast. Geno Atkins (when healthy) is arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL - but is coming back from ACL surgery and may not play. With Atkins, the biggest challenge will come on the edges. Carlos Dunlap is a Pro Bowl caliber defensive end and is the best player on the line after Atkins.
One guy to keep an eye on is second year defensive end Margus Hunt. He is a 6'8 290-pound former junior discus throw champion in Estonia and is one player competing to replace Michael Johnson opposite Dunlap.
3. The Chiefs have a quarterback competition going on between No. 3 Tyler Bray and No. 4 Aaron Murray. Who should they keep an eye on in the secondary during the second half?
Cornerback will be an interesting camp battle. The Bengals have five first round cornerbacks on their roster in Leon Hall, Terrence Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard. When Bray and Murray are in there, they will likely see the youngest of the group in the Bengals 2014 first rounder (Dennard) and their 2012 first rounder (Kirkpatrick). Kirkpatrick has struggled a bit with injuries and consistency since being taken out of Alabama, but Dennard has been getting very good reviews from the coaching staff.
4. What is the expected rotation for the Bengals starters?
Like most teams, the Bengals don't play their starters much in the first preseason game, so I wouldn't expect to see them in there for more than one or two series. The offensive line will be missing 3-4 starters so Dalton and Bernard will likely not be in there long and the defense has a lot of guys coming off offseason surgeries who will be limited (if dressed at all).
The Bengals do have some high picks over the last few years that will likely see a lot of playing time: Jeremy Hill - RB LSU (second round 2014), Dre Kirkpartick - CB Alabama (first round 2012), Darqueze Dennard - CB Michigan State (first round 2014) and Shawn Williams - S Georgia (fourth round 2013).
5. If these teams were playing in the regular season, what would your prediction be?
The Bengals may have the most talented roster in the NFL and can go as far as Dalton can take them. The defense should be a top 5-10 defense again in 2014, they have a top 10 offensive line and their skill positions are one of, if not the deepest and most talented in the NFL. If this were the regular season, I would probably say 24-17 Bengals.