Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How The Packers Look Against The Bengals

The Bengals were on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, and my kids even let me watch a little bit of it. Here are a few early thoughts about the Packers' next opponent.
I've been pretty unimpressed with the Packers' offensive line in their first two games, though LG Josh Sitton is doing his best to play through a bad back. I'm bullish on rookie LT David Bakhtiari but he's had his problems with edge rushers in his first two games. It won't get any easier for the lineman because the Bengals have a great defensive line. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson bring the outside rush while Geno Atkins brings it from the inside. However, if the Bears were able to protect QB Jay Cutler in Week 1 against them, I would expect the Packer lineman will be able to protect QB Aaron Rodgers too.

The hamstring injuries to S Morgan Burnett and CB Casey Hayward do not appear to be going away, and the Packers threw out a bunch of different combinations in the secondary against the Redskins to see what works. The second half on Sunday almost turned into a preseason game, as the coaches used every healthy defensive back on the roster. The good news is that this isn't because they're desperate; they have some similar, quality backups to choose from and they wanted to see what CB Davon House and S Chris Banjo could do in a regular season game. Hopefully the experiment is over and they stick with their best five or six defensive backs next week.

As for the Bengals, the key to their offense remains WR A.J. Green. Against the Bears' zone coverage, Green had a big game and so did QB Andy Dalton. But against the Steelers, when CB Ike Taylor played press coverage and got in Green's face, he only had 41 yards receiving and Dalton had a QBR of 39.5. I hope to see CB Tramon Williams pressing Green early and often in coverage next Sunday.

The Bengals haven't been able to run the ball much in 2013, but their two games this season have come against two of the better (best) run defenses of 2012. The Bengals weren't a great rushing team in 2012, but they'll have more success later this season when they play teams other than the Bears and Steelers.

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