Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 3: Packers vs Bengals Preview

First, I am going to highly recommend to you that if you want to get an overall view of our look at the game today between the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium that you please see our pre-preview from two days ago. That will give you an overall flavor of things as we see it.

Not much has changed in the past couple days to make us alter our view of things. The Packers are still favored by 3 points (or 2-1/2 depending upon your source). We still think a lot of points will go up on the board (the over-under has actually increased, from 48.5 to 49.5 points).

It's interesting to read through all the various scenarios pundits posit about this game. As noted in our pre-preview, this game -- for some -- is a preview of a potential Super Bowl match up. Certainly they are two potent teams. Each has an edge in certain areas, so watching the chess match being played out by the coaches and coordinators through the course of the game will be nearly as interesting to watch as the plays on the field. Well, not really. That was hyperbole. Forgive me. Nothing is going to be more fun today than watching two talented offenses go at one another and seeing what the defenses try to do to slow things down.

The Bengals have one of the game's best receivers in A.J. Green. They have good tight ends. Well, the Packers have three very good receivers and some good tight ends of their own, including one by the name of Jermichael Finley who seems to have regained a bit of his mojo and, more importantly, the trust and confidence of the guy throwing to him.

Oh, yes, did we mention quarterbacks? Andy Dalton is a capable quarterback and can do damage if the Packers defense doesn't get to him early and often. But is he of the same caliber as Aaron Rodgers? No. You can say -- and some rightly do -- that the edge in the running game goes to the Bengals. That's fine. The Pack will have to find a way to keep that in check, definitely. And the edge on the defensive side of things has to go the Bengals way, especially in the front seven and, given the battered nature of the Packers' secondary, to the entire defensive unit. But is it a huge difference? Depends upon who steps up on both sides.

Still, given the Packers' offensive weapons -- and particularly if RB James Starks can come even marginally close to reprising what he did against Washington (he won't...this isn't the Redskins D we're playing) -- I have to take the Packers, as do the majority of pundits it seems, to win this game.

It could be ugly early on offense for the Pack, as it was last week against Washington. And given the much better defensive front seven of the Bengals it could actually be quite ugly for a while. But the Packers' defense is improved over last season, as well, despite the injuries and gaps in the secondary right now. The Packers' D should be able to get to Dalton or at least be disruptive and that could be enough to upset the apple cart.

I'm calling this one Packers 31-24 over the Bengals.

(Photo of Aaron Rodgers above by Jim Biever,