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Five storylines heading into Sunday

We take a look at five quick storylines heading into Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints.

Andy Lyons

1) The Bengals after a primetime game

Historically speaking, the Bengals are 6-15 during regular season primetime games since head coach Marvin Lewis took over [NOTE: ESPN and the Enquirer have the Bengals at 6-14, but we're not sure what loss they're missing, or which one I've included]. In games after a primetime loss, the Bengals are 5-7-1 (the Jets in '09 was the regular season finale and the Bengals haven't played their post-Browns game yet).

How will the Bengals respond after a disastrous Thursday night showing against the Browns?

2) Andy Dalton follow-up and Hue Jackson response

Better yet, how will Andy Dalton respond after completing 10 of 33 passes for 86 yards passing, three interceptions and zero touchdowns? Dalton is in the sight-line of angry Bengals fans, but Hue Jackson has taken a couple of jabs on the chin.

"You know the stats. I can't dispute what is fact," Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said.

"I'm joined at the hip with him. I understand that's the way it goes," said Jackson, who played quarterback in college. "I have not run from that. As he gets killed, I get killed. That's the way it goes. That's part of the business.

"But I don't want us to think we're going to have an issue with Andy. We're not. We're going to coach Andy. We're going to help Andy get to where he needs to be. That's my job. We're going to coach him, continue to get him better, continue to grow."

On the other hand, one could argue that Dalton has significantly regressed this year. He's on pace for career-lows in touchdowns (14) and passer rating (78.0), and threatening career lows in yards passing (3,484) and completion percentage (60.9).

3) Bengals rushing defense

We detailed the team's statistical issues with their rushing defense. Can Cincinnati recover from a doomed rushing defense that currently ranks 31st in the NFL, facing the league's sixth-best rushing offense which features a running back coming into Sunday with three-straight 100-yard games? That's a mouthful.

4) Against Drew Brees?

Drew Brees will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame one day -- disputing that is like arguing that water isn't wet while swimming across the Atlantic.

Brees has faced the Bengals three times in his career -- once as a San Diego Charger (2002). In the two games that he's played against the Bengals ('06, '10), all while with the New Orleans Saints, Brees is 1-1 but statistically awesome. He's completed 75.3 percent of his passes in both games combined, scored multiple touchdowns and is averaging 411.5 yards passing per game.

The Bengals defeated Brees in '06, largely thanks to three interceptions. New Orleans won in 2010... Pat Sims remembers.

5) The walking injured

Vontaze Burfict had his knee scoped and the team said that he'll be out for the next two weeks. After missing Jacksonville and Cleveland, Burfict, if that original timeline is to be followed, should be back this week.

Tight end Tyler Eifert could be back this week, though Marvin Lewis added doubt when he said that he could miss the entire season. NOTE: The question he responded to wasn't an official declaration when a reporter asked, "he could be out for the year" and Lewis just said yes. It wasn't like he offered that information in a prepared statement. It was like saying, I'm hungry, I might have lunch now... but it's possible that I'll wait for dinner.

In other words, put this file under "pending".

Giovani Bernard could also return this week.