Friday, September 20, 2013

Looking ahead to Packers vs. Bengals

Green Bay Packers fans have to feel good coming off last Sunday's romp over the Washington Redskins. The only downside was the loss of rookie RB Eddie Lacy to a concussion on his one and only carry of the day. Of course, the flip side was that replacement James Starks romped to the tune of 132 yards. That was sweet!

While some pundits are suggesting that this Sunday's game at Paul Brown Stadium might be a preview of things to come, as in Super Bowl XLVIII, the questions for the Packers going through the prep week for the Cincinnati Bengals are more immediate and basically have to do with the following:
  • Can Starks repeat his 100+ yards performance?
  • Can Lacy play at all Sunday?
  • If Lacy is unavailable as a back up -- Starks has already been named as the starter this week -- is rookie RB Johnathan Franklin finally ready to show something out of the backfield, including being able to pass protect for Aaron Rodgers?
  • Will FB and Rodgers' personal body guard in the backfield, John Kuhn, be available to play following his hamstring injury?
  • If Kuhn is unavailable for the game -- and that seems to be a good possibility -- which of the tight ends will be taking up the fullback spot in certain formations?
  • How will an admittedly sieve-like secondary hold up against one of the top receivers in the league, A. J. Green?
  • Can the offensive line, which performed admirably from about the second quarter on against the 'Skins, reprise their effort against a defensive line that might be nearly as good as San Francisco's front seven?
If Rodgers has time -- and that is a question at this point given the ups and downs we've seen with the Packers' O-line -- he can have success against the Bengals secondary. Conversely, Bengals QB Andy Dalton -- while a capable but not top-tier passer -- could find success against the Packers secondary if the Pack's front seven can't get to him.

At the time of this writing the Packers are favored by 3 points. The over-under is currently set at 48.5 total points, tied for third most of the entire weekend; obviously the oddsmakers figure there will be lots of scoring going on. That can all change by game time, of course.

Still, you have to like the way the Pack rebounded in Week 2. We'd expect that momentum to carry over to this week. Once this game is out of the way, the Packers will have 14 days before their next game...the bye week happens in Week 4, way too soon. So the Packers will undoubtedly not push their injured players to play this week, preferring to rest them for the long haul of 13 games in a row coming up after the bye. Who plays and who is held out may very well determine whether the Packers emerge 1-2 or 2-1. It likely will be that close unless one team or the other collapses.

Be sure to check back here no later than Sunday morning for our final game preview and prediction. Bookmark us!

Go Pack Go!!!