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Chiefs vs. Bengals preview: Alex Smith or Andy Dalton?

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It's the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. We talked with SB Nation's Bengals blog, Cincy Jungle, to preview the Bengals. Here's our Q&A...

1. Would a Bengals fan rather have Alex Smith or Andy Dalton?

That is a great question and will depend on the particular fan and the particular week. Dalton has a very large and vocal group of detractors locally - many of which are still calling for A.J. McCarron despite Dalton's 3-0 start, 8 touchdowns, 1 interception and 121.0 rating (my head hurts trying to reason with this bunch). As we discussed on Wednesday night, Smith and Dalton are often lumped together as interchangeable quarterbacks due to their perceived "averageness." However, they both achieve this "averageness" in two completely different ways, and therefore are not as similar as most think.

Smith is very risk averse. He doesn't turn the ball over much, rarely hurts the team with his decisions and achieves his average stats by being very consistently average.

Dalton on the other hand is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde. I refer to it as ‘Good Andy' and ‘Bad Andy'...'Average Andy' only exists on the stats pages. He either plays very well or very poorly, but rarely has average games. ‘Good Andy' is very capable of throwing 300+ yards and 3+ touchdowns in a game, and with ‘Good Andy,' this team can beat anyone. ‘Bad Andy,' on the other hand, is a turnover machine and is the Andy that most NFL fans are familiar with because he often shows up in the big national games. With ‘Bad Andy,' this team is capable of losing to anyone. What I have noticed this year with Dalton though, is he looks comfortable in the offense and it appears as though the game is starting to slow down for him. Some of that has to do with having all of his weapons back (Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones missed all of 2014), but part of it is that he hasn't been forcing throws and when a play is not there to be made, he has thrown the ball away or scrambled.

I know that is a longwinded answer, but getting back to your original question, while I believe Smith is one of the most underrated / underappreciated quarterbacks in the league, I think the smart Bengals fans would take Dalton because of his upside. That being said, I think you would find a larger fraction of this fan base that would trade Dalton for anyone, including Alex Smith - and you can bet if the Chiefs win on Sunday, there will be plenty in the twittersphere hollering from the rooftops about how much better Smith is than Dalton.

2. What makes the Bengals offensive line good? Who is the best linemen?

They hadn't given up a sack through the first two games, but the Ravens did get to Dalton twice in Week 3, including a strip sack that resulted in a fumble returned for a touchdown. However, they have played very well thus far and are certainly a top five unit. I would say their guards and tackles would all rank in the top 5-10 at their respective positions, but I would say their best lineman is their oldest, and that is left tackle Andrew Whitworth. At 33, I believe Whitworth is the oldest starting left tackle in the league - but possibly the best. In 2014, he was one of four left tackles to not surrender a sack. That being said, the Bengals tackles will have their work cut out for him this week as Hali and Houston will be the most prolific duo they have faced this far. The spot the Chiefs will look to exploit is the center, Russell Bodine. Bodine, a second year player, had a solid Week 2 against the Chargers but was absolutely abused by Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams last week. If Dontari Poe can overwhelm Bodine, the Chiefs can limit the Bengals rushing attack and force Dalton to beat them through the air.

3. The Chiefs will have a problem in nickel as Phillip Gaines is out for the year. Who will be lining up in the slot for the Bengals?

With Hue Jackson's offense, you never know - he did a wheel route with a backup tackle in Week 2. That being said, the Bengals use three different players in the slot (two of which are running backs). Mohamed Sanu (6'2", 210 pounds) is a big receiver and will likely be in the slot most often. Not exceptionally fast or quick, but strong on the ball and a reliable target. The two backs you will likely see in the slot at times are Giovani Bernard and Rex Burkhead. Thanks to fantasy football, I'm sure most Chiefs fans are aware of Bernard, he is small (5'9", 205 pounds) but a great route runner with excellent hands. He is like a bigger version of Darren Sproles - incredibly quick, shifty and difficult to tackle in the open field. Burkhead is kind of an X-Factor. He excels on special teams and the Bengals will use him on offense as both a running back and a wide receiver, and while not as big as Sanu (5'10", 210 pounds) or as quick as Bernard, Burkhead probably has the best hands of the three and seems to always make a play whenever he enters the game.

4. How do most teams try to stop AJ Green?

Most teams shade a safety his way and try to bracket him - using the safety to take away the deep ball and forcing Dalton to be accurate with the short and intermediary routes. The effectiveness really has depended on two things: 1) the defensive personnel and whether or not they can execute the plan effectively, and 2) Dalton. Thus far in 2015, Dalton has been very accurate and has been able to beat defenses regardless of how they play Green. However, Dalton is prone to days of inaccuracy (or at least he has been in the past) and when that is the case, you see him throw a lot of picks when trying to force the ball to Green in double coverage.

5. The Chiefs offensive line has had its issues. Tell me about the Bengals pass rush and what we need to be concerned about.

The biggest concern for the Chiefs line will be containing Geno Atkins up the middle. Prior to tearing his ACL late in 2013, Atkins was a top five defensive tackle (probably top two or three). However, despite being cleared to play in 2014, it was obvious he lacked that quick first step and explosiveness he had prior to his knee injury. He looks to be back to form in 2015 and his quick first step blows up run plays before they can develop and pushes the quarterback into the Bengals defensive ends. The Bengals have solid defensive ends (Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson), who because of the double (and sometimes triple) teams that Atkins attracts, benefit from the one-on-one opportunities and are capable of winning those one-on-one matchups. Beside Atkins, the Bengals don't have any other individual stars on the line, but they are strong as a group. What makes this Bengals defensive line so effective is their use of an eight man rotation. The Bengals have eight solid linemen and will run them in and out like hockey line changes. When the Bengals see the offensive line looks tired, they will roll out four fresh defensive linemen and take advantage of it. As a result, the offensive line has to compete all afternoon against a defensive line that is fresh and this causes issues for teams in the fourth quarter.