Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said Thursday that he's dealing with Week 1 nerves just like his players are, but if there was ever a team he wouldn't mind breaking in his new offense against, the Cincinnati Bengals might be it.
Kubiak was 8-2 in seven seasons as the Houston Texans' head coach against the Ravens' AFC North rivals, including five wins against the Bengals, against whom the Ravens open their season on Sunday.
This deserves all the usual qualifiers, including how Kubiak's system stalled out last year in Houston and how much the Bengals defense has improved since he last played them. Kubiak himself said Thursday that the Ravens are "starting against a great group."
"We have a big, big challenge this weekend, but that's part of this league," Kubiak said.
In recent years, however, he's handled the improving Bengals defense under coach Marvin Lewis well. Of the five games he's played against Cincinnati, his offenses have gained at least 340 yards in each, with strong performances on the ground contributing to much of the success.
The Bengals' defensive front has improved with defensive tackle Geno Atkins and linebacker Vontaze Burfict since those wins, but that's likely how the Ravens will go after Cincinnati.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he's been preparing by watching tape of both the Ravens players in past years and Kubiak's Texans teams, though he's not sure how the two will jell when game begins.
"We have some uncertainty of how things are, but Gary is an excellent football coach, and he's done a great job," Lewis said. "We have to be ready to play great defense."
Here's a rundown of his games against the AFC North teams, sans the Ravens:
2006: Won 14-6 against Cleveland, 179 yards total offense
2007: Lost 27-17 to Cleveland, 314 yards total offense
2008: Lost 38-17 to Pittsburgh, 234 yards total offense
2008: Won 35-6 against Cincinnati, 384 yards total offense
2008: Won 16-6 against Cincinnati, 383 yards total offense
2009: Won 28-17 against Cincinnati, 472 yards total offense
2011: Won 17-10 against Pittsburgh, 318 yards total offense
2011: Won 30-12 against Cleveland, 380 yards total offense
2011: Won 20-19 against Cincinnati, 412 yards total offense
2011: Won 31-10 against Cincinnati (playoffs), 340 yards total offense
2012: Won 19-13 against Cincinnati (playoffs), 420 yards total offense