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If Bengals beat Chiefs, they'll likely do so in trenches

Look for Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to have big games if the Bengals are to beat the Chiefs.

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The Bengals are 3-0 in large part because they've dominated one or both sides of the trenches in each of their first three wins.

The pass rush was very dominant in Cincinnati's first two wins, racking up a combined six sacks in wins over the Raiders and Chargers. Last week's win in Baltimore saw Cincinnati's pass rush fail to record a sack, but still had an astounding 14 QB hurries as they kept Joe Flacco pressured throughout the game.

They'll look to be effective once again, against a Chiefs offensive line that is struggling mightily to protect Alex Smith. Through the first three weeks, K.C. has given up an NFL-high 14 sacks. Seven of them came in their Monday Night Football loss to the Packers That same Packers team had only 30 sacks in 2014 and had just four through their first two games before punishing Smith mercilessly last Monday.

Needless to say, this Chiefs o-line is struggling as they get set to face a Bengals team that's also good at making life hard on opposing QBs. The two guys who do that best are Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins.

Dunlap will spend most of this game on the right side against right tackle Eric Fisher, who returned to his starting spot last week after playing sparingly the first two games while dealing with an injury. Fisher actually had a  good game against the Packers while allowing just two QB Hurries and finishing with a 1.1 Pro Football focus Grade.

However, Dunlap has quietly been playing like one of the best defensive ends in football, as evidenced by his 6.2 PFF grade. That ranks him No. 4 out of 71 defensive ends. A big reason why are his eight stops (tackles causing an offensive failure), for which he's tied for the second most of any end.

The real battle to watch though will be Atkins going against offensive guards Ben Grubbs and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Atkins will take turns rushing both sides against both guards, though the Bengals would be best served to have him matched up against Duvernay-Tardif as much as possible. His -3.4 PFF grade is the second-worst mark of any Chiefs lineman and the worst by a starter (Jah Reid is ranked worse, but he's a backup now).

Duvernay-Tardif has allowed three sacks and seven QB hurries in three games thus far, while Atkins has racked up seven QB hurries and three sacks over that same span. Atkins' 15.7 grade is also the second-best mark of any defensive tackle in PFF's rankings.

That's not even accounting for what other Bengals linemen are capable of, like Michael Johnson coming off a game in which he had four QB hurries against the Ravens. Wallace Gilberry has one sack this year and 16.5 in his Bengals career. Domata Peko is quietly having a good season while clogging the middle and freeing up his teammates to make plays.

All of those guys helped combine to hold Baltimore to 36 yards rushing on 18 attempts last week. They'll need a similar effort this week against a Chiefs offense that loves featuring star running back Jamaal Charles. Through three games this year, Charles has 231 yards on 48 carries (4.8 ypc) with four TDs. He would have more yards had his team not fallen behind last week so quickly, leading to him getting only 49 yards on 11 carries.

If the Bengals are to win this game, look for the defensive line to have another big performance.