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Bengals Bytes (9/14): Mixed welcomes

The Bengals have a 3-3 record against quarterbacks making their first start in the NFL, and they will probably have a chance to improve that with the Texans expected to start Deshaun Watson. The NFL was pleased with the pace of games.

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Numbers game
Stats and facts for the Bengals entering their Thursday Night Game against the Texans.

'Never gets old'
Ken Riley passed on to his son Ken the passion for football and a heck of a Paul Brown imitation. “Boy, he was something,” says Riley the Elder to his old partners on the corner, Lemar Parrish and Louis Breeden. Both are on display this week when the Bengals host their first two alumni dinners celebrating the club’s 50th anniversary and coinciding with each home game.

TDBH: Bengals melt Matty Ice for 10th straight at The Paul
Now you can stuff and mount the passer rating of Falcons Pro Bowler Matt Ryan next to the helmets of Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco, and Andrew Luck. In a building where the Bengals held four Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks to a combined rating of 56 last season, Ryan hits a mere 48.6 today in the Bengals’ 24-10 victory just a week after he led the NFL with 448 yards passing. The 2-0 Bengals have now won 10 straight at home to tie a franchise record in a suffocating streak they’ve held opposing passers to a rating of 57.1. And for the third straight game at The Paul they have three interceptions.

Bengals bring mixed record against rookie QBs into matchup with Deshaun Watson
The Texans haven't announced their starting quarterback for Thursday night's game against the Bengals, but all signs point toward rookie Deshaun Watson making his first start. That's who Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has been preparing for all along.

NFL 2017 - The O-Line Calamity Index - Who's in trouble up front
The Offensive Line Calamity Index highlights NFL teams with the most riding on offensive lines that could be their undoing. In basic terms: otherwise good teams that could be broken by O-line play. No team can match the Seahawks in that regard, but they have company. Several teams with legitimate or at least semi-legitimate postseason aspirations can point to their offensive lines as the one thing that might ruin everything.

What to watch for in Texans-Bengals on 'TNF'
The first Thursday Night Football showdown of the year features a pair of teams desperate to forget Week 1. Both the Texans and Bengals suffered disastrous losses on Sunday, leaving these two playoff hopefuls in a fix. If Houston stumbles on Thursday, they'll be forced to march winless into New England in Week 3. The Bengals, meanwhile, are being asked to travel to Green Bay after this week's prime-time tussle, exclusively airing on NFL Network at 8:25 p.m. ET.

Dalton the focus as Bengals, Texans get past awful openers
Andy Dalton was dreadful in the Bengals’ opener, turning over the ball five times and finishing with the second-lowest passer rating of his career. He’ll have one thing in his favor Thursday night: He tends not to let bad days linger. The crowd at Paul Brown Stadium will get on Dalton if he comes out subpar when the Bengals host the Texans, with both teams coming off lopsided opening losses. Dalton, who grew up in the Houston suburb of Katy, has struggled throughout his career against the Texans’ in-your-face defense.

Bengals, Texans trying to shake awful debuts. Here's who will
No NFL Week 2 game more than this one finds both teams already bordering on desperation, after Houston lost at home to Jacksonville by 29-7 and Cincy laid a similarly sized home egg vs. Baltimore, 20-0. Andy Dalton was four-picks-putrid for the Bengals, and Tom Savage was benched at halftime for Texans, who'll give first-round rookie DeShaun Watson out of Clemson his first pro start here. Houston has a ton of early injuries and the NFL's saddest, sorriest offensive line, so give me Dalton's 'Gals at home with the much-needed bounceback win.

Bengals' Marvin Lewis expects Texans to start Deshaun Watson
When the Texans' offense breaks the huddle Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis expects the 0-1 Texans to have rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson on the field. The Texans replaced Tom Savage at halftime during a 29-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

6 things to watch in Cincinnati Bengals game vs Houston Texans
Reeling from a 20-0 blanking by Baltimore in the season opener, the Cincinnati Bengals will try to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2008 and just the third of the Marvin Lewis era when they play host to the Houston Texans on Thursday Night Football. The Texans will be trying to avoid going 0-2 for the second time in three years, although they rallied from that slow start in 2015 to make the playoffs.

Bengals news: Marvin Lewis says rookie Joe Mixon 'better than I expected'
The Cincinnati Bengals received a beating at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in their Week 1 home loss last Sunday, but if there ever was a positive takeaway for Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis from that game, it’s how rookie running back Joe Mixon performed on the field.

Bengals offensive line back into the fire
The biggest Bengals question entering this season began and ended with the restructured offensive line. This was not a secret. Uncertainty up front was apparent as the shadows once cast by Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. New tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher owned the challenge, openly admitting the success of this season in many ways falls on the offensive line’s shoulders.

The Times' Sam Farmer predicts the Bengals will defeat the Texans 21-17 on Thursday
Deshaun Watson’s ankle is sturdy enough to make his starting debut. The Bengals are due to bounce back, though, because they aren’t going to play that poorly two weeks in a row. Bengals 21, Texans 17

Deshaun Watson to start against Bengals, pending examination of his ankle
Watson relieved Tom Savage in the second half of Sunday's 29-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars after Savage and the offense struggled to move the ball. Savage was 7-of-13 for 62 yards and Watson went 12-of-23 for 102 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

AFC North Bytes

Mike Tomlin: Mike Zimmer's Vikings remind me of Bengals
Mike Tomlin is very familiar with Mike Zimmer. Zimmer was defensive coordinator for the Bengals from 2008-2013, and in that time, he had a 4-8 record against the Steelers. Keep in mind, though, that the Bengals had two four-win seasons in that span that were largely quarterback-related, so when both teams were competitive and stocked on offense, they played each other more evenly.

Tim Montgomery: Josh Gordon Is Still in Rehab, Hopes to Have Suspension Lifted
Former Olympic track star Tim Montgomery said Wednesday that Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is nearing completion of rehab and hopes to be reinstated by the NFL soon after. Montgomery has helped mentor Gordon, according to Mary Kay Cabot of, and he said Gordon will be out of rehab on Sept. 21 after a 90-day stint.

John Harbaugh Praises Hue Jackson’s Ability To Develop Rookie QBs
While there is hope that DeShone Kizer may be the long lost answer at quarterback for the Browns, one thing is clear: the rookie from Notre Dame is in good hands. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised Browns head coach Hue Jackson on Wednesday during a conference call with Cleveland reporters about his ability to develop quarterbacks.

Random Bytes

NFL pleased that most Week One games were under three hours
The NFL is trying to speed up the pace of play, and the early returns are promising. On a league conference call today, the NFL touted the fact that 10 of the 15 games played in Week One were finished in less than three hours, the first time since Week 17 of 2009 that that many games were completed in less than three hours.

Chargers Kicker Younghoe Koo's Story Is Familiar for Many Korean-Americans
Andy Kwon liked to yell things at Younghoe Koo across the locker room at Georgia Southern. Some days it would just be a simple, "Anyong!" a morning hello in Korean to greet his friend. Others, he'd walk past his locker and say, "Mo-hago inni?" asking his friend what he was up to on that given day.

Brian Cushing Suspended 10 Games by NFL for PEDs
The NFL has suspended Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing 10 games for violating its policy on performance-enhancing drugs. The league announced Cushing's suspension Wednesday, via Texans public relations on Twitter.

NFL Reportedly Trying to Speed Up Appeal of Ezekiel Elliott's Blocked Suspension
The NFL is attempting to accelerate its appeal of the temporary injunction granted to Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, filing paperwork that threatens to take the matter to the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals if a decision is not made by Thursday.