One of the more intriguing aspects of games is how connected two teams really are. Obviously the states that encapsulate both Cincinnati and Detroit border one another with such a history that if this were college football, we'd be clutching our fists and growling at the television. But this is the NFL and no real rivalry exists between the two franchises. But there are connections, such as the Cincinnati Bengals playing Super Bowl XVI at the Pontiac Silverdome in 1982; the first of two Super Bowls they'd play and lose during franchise history.
During the 2008 season at the University of Georgia, A.J. Green set freshman school records with 56 receptions for 963 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. His quarterback was Matthew Stafford, playing his final collegiate season before the Detroit Lions selected him first overall during the 2009 NFL draft. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins were also teammates of both players. Head coaches Marvin Lewis and Jim Schwartz were assistants together with the Baltimore Ravens from 1996-1998. Schwartz would go on to join the Tennessee Titans after the 1998 season. Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy was a teammate with fullback Chris Pressley at Wisconsin as were Bobby Carpenter and Mike Nugent at the Ohio State University. Guard Rob Sims also played with the Buckeyes. Defensive end Michael Johnson and wide receiver Calvin Johnson were teammates at Georgia Tech.
Disturbingly enough, several Bengals players played for Michigan schools. Kyle Cook and Domata Peko played for Michigan State (along with quarterback Drew Stanton) while cornerbacks Morgan Trent and Leon Hall played for the University of Michigan. Quarterback Dan LeFevour is from Central Michigan and linebacker Dan Skuta played for Grand Valley State. Linebacker Cobrani Mixon, former high school player at Colerain high school and Kent State, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Lions this offseason.
From 1985-86 Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander was a coach at Michigan, with a four-year stint at Central Michigan from 1987-91 before joining the New York Jets as an assistant coach. Alexander joined the Bengals in 1994. Lions secondary coach Tim Walton was a defensive back for the Ohio State Buckeyes with previous coaching experience at Bowling Green from 1995-1999. Defensive line coach Jay Hayes played for the Michigan Panthers of the USFL in 1984 as a defensive end.