The Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens have been models of consistency in the AFC North in recent years, but they've opened 2015 in completely different fashions.
Cincinnati is off to another strong start ahead of Sunday's meeting in Baltimore, where the Ravens look to avoid their first 0-3 start.
Seeking their fifth straight playoff appearance, the Bengals (2-0) have impressed in 33-13 and 24-19 wins against Oakland and San Diego, averaging 392.5 yards of offense to their opponents' 300.0.
Another victory Sunday would give them their second straight 3-0 start. They also started 6-2 in 2013 and 3-1 in 2012.
"It's exactly how you want to start, and we by no means have played a perfect game," quarterback Andy Dalton said. "There's still a lot more we can improve on. So the good thing is we feel that way and we've won games."
John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to the postseason in six of his seven years as coach, but he's never had to recover from an 0-2 start, the franchise's first since 2005.
"We've got to go forward," he said after road losses at Denver and Oakland. "We have every opportunity to accomplish what we need to accomplish. We just have to get better."
Dalton has been efficient thus far, posting a 120.3 passer rating with five touchdowns. He's the league's lone quarterback yet to be sacked or intercepted while starting the first two games.
Dalton has been successful despite a slow start by A.J. Green, who has been limited to eight receptions for 108 yards and a TD. Even during an injury-riddled 2014, Green averaged 80.1 yards.
Third-year tight end Tyler Eifert has emerged as a new weapon for Dalton, though, grabbing 13 of 17 targets for 153 yards and three TDs, which trail only Rob Gronkowski.
The Cincinnati running game, which ranked sixth last year with 134.2 yards per game, appears to be strong again with 302 yards. There is some uncertainty as to how the distribution of carries will play out moving forward, however.
No. 2 back Giovani Bernard ran for 123 yards on 20 carries in last week's win against San Diego, getting his most work in his 13 games as lead back Jeremy Hill sat out following his second fumble.
Hill supplanted Bernard as last season progressed, averaging 19.1 carries the final nine regular-season games.
"Jeremy's a talented young player, and we've got to keep the football," coach Marvin Lewis said. "That wasn't part of his deal last year, and we can't let it creep in."
Bernard had 10 or fewer carries in four of his final five regular-season games last year, but figures to get more work after impressing against the Raiders.
Regardless of who is getting the ball, the Bengals need to do a better job establishing the run against the Ravens after averaging 3.2 yards per carry in last year's series. They still won both, however, putting themselves in position to win a fourth straight matchup for the first time in series history.
Dalton has struggled in Baltimore, recording a 67.6 passer rating, but Green has flourished with 282 receiving yards in his last two visits. Green has also scored TDs of 51-plus yards in each of the last three meetings overall.
Cincinnati could look to pick on Ravens No. 1 corner Jimmy Smith, who has given up 10 completions on 16 targets for 141 yards and a touchdown.
While Dalton has been a steadying force for the Bengals, Baltimore's Joe Flacco owns a 34.6 fourth-quarter passer rating with two interceptions on 26 attempts. His 99.7 fourth-quarter passer rating ranked ninth in the NFL last year.
What may be more worrisome than Flacco's uneven play is that the Ravens surrendered 37 points and 448 yards to Oakland on Sunday after the Raiders finished 31st with 15.8 points per game last year.
Getting off the field on third down has been a huge problem with opponents converting 17 of 32 tries, including seven of 10 in the second half.
Generating pressure has also proven difficult after the loss of Terrell Suggs (Achilles), who is out for the year. The Ravens had just one sack against Oakland.
"If we're going to have a chance to be a successful football team, our defense is going to have to step up and play the way the Ravens play," Harbaugh said. "We expect to play great defense around here, and that's just not what we did on Sunday."
Getting to Dalton could be a recipe for success Sunday. He owns a 132.9 passer rating when not pressured compared to a 51.6 mark when pressured - the league's third-largest disparity among quarterbacks with at least 28 attempts. Dalton's seven interceptions against blitzes last year also tied Flacco for the most in the NFL.
Baltimore leads this series 20-18.