Bengals Need to Contain Receivers to Win Against Packers
By Joe Sorensen
With the young season starting to gain momentum, one of the two teams from Ohio is getting ready for one of their toughest opponents of the season. Heading into this weekend’s game against the Green Bay Packers (1-1), the defense for the Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) will be facing a challenge they have yet to come across this season.
While the Bengals’ defense has been good at stopping the running game, ranking them seventh in the NFL, they have been in the middle of the pack when it comes to defending the pass (14th in the league). On the other side of the ball, the Packers have been showing their offensive balance and proving they can run the ball as well. Thus far, they are ranked first for total yards, second in passing yards, and 16th in rushing yards.
While the Bengals’ front seven will continue to stop the run, the pressure is put on the secondary to contain quarterback Aaron Rodgers (813 yards, seven touchdowns, one interception) and his large group of weapons. Wide receivers Randall Cobb (16 catches, 236 yards, two touchdowns), James Jones (11 catches, 178 yards), Jordy Nelson (10 catches, 196 yards, three touchdowns) and tight end Jermichael Finley (11 catches, 121 yards, two touchdowns) have torched the San Francisco 49ers’ strong defense and the Washington Redskins’ weak defense. This week, it will be up to cornerbacks Leon Hall and Terence Newman to maintain and control the Packers’ passing attack. Hopefully, they will have help from safeties Reggie Nelson and George IIoka.
Looking forward into the season, this game will be a test for a defense that plays a couple of quarterbacks who are similar to Aaron Rodgers. In the coming weeks, the Bengals play two primarily passing teams, the Detroit Lions and the New England Patriots. While neither of these teams have the amount of weapons that the Packers have this year, the Bengals need to show that they can contain the pass without giving up a lot of big plays.
Offensively, Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton needs to lead the team to more points. In the first two games of the season, the team has scored 21 and 20 points, respectively. This point total will not beat the Packers. Last week, Dalton continued to get more weapons involved in the passing attack. Tight ends Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert were big keys last week and need to keep the pressure on the Packers’ defense that ranks 30th against the pass and 29th overall. On the outside, the production of wide receiver A.J. Green should be there this week, but another receiver needs to step up to take advantage of the match-up.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Packers 34
While the offense will be able to move the ball against the horrible Green Bay defense, a few key mistakes will ruin their momentum at the end of the game and allow Rodgers to capitalize on it. Green will get his numbers (probably around eight catches, 130 yards, and a touchdown), but no other receiver will step up again this week. The lack of a number two receiver makes Dalton force a pass to Green in the fourth quarter that is intercepted by the Packers. Defensively, the Bengals will shut down the Packers’ running game and hit Rodgers a few times, but the receivers will get open as Rodgers tops 300 passing yards for the third game this season.