This Sunday, the Packers look to take their record over .500 as they take on the 1-1 Cincinnati Bengals. Mickey Mentzer of Cincy Jungle was kind enough to answer some questions about Cincinnati and gives us a game prediction.
APC: The Bengals entered the 2013 season with Super Bowl aspirations, and those goals depend on a strong season from quarterback Andy Dalton. However, through his first two games Dalton has only thrown three touchdowns and been intercepted twice. How concerned should the Bengals be about Dalton going forward?
CJ: There is a weird feeling about Dalton with Bengal fans. On the one hand, you have a guy that has taken the Bengals to back to back playoff appearances for the first time in like 120 years. On the other, fans see him as possibly the weak link. With outstanding talent at the running back, tight end and wide receiver positions, I think fans expect Dalton to put up Aaron Rodgers type numbers. Dalton is a guy that usually makes the safe play and is good at running the offense the Bengals have designed for him. I am very confident that as the season progresses, Dalton gets more comfortable with the offense and with that the stats go up in his favor.
APC: This past April, the Bengals drafted running back Giovani Bernard. So far, Bernard has received just over a fifth of the team's rushing attempts this season. How big of a role do you expect him to play against Green Bay?
CJ: After the Monday night game, the Bengals need to understand what they have in him. In the draft the Bengals were looking for the type of running back that could not only compliment BenJarvus Green-Ellis, they wanted a guy that could make big plays. Giovani Bernard is that guy. He is shifty and very fast in the running game. He is also very good at catching passes out of the back field. There are certain players in the NFL that can change a game with one touch. I don't know that Bernard is there yet, but he has shown flashes. I think in this game his role is going to be keeping the Green Bay defense guessing. When he is in he is so dynamic that you have to account for him at all times.
APC: After two weeks of play, what are your impressions of the Bengals secondary, and how do you think they'll handle the Packers' receivers and tight ends?
CJ: The Bengals secondary usually looks as good as the kind of pressure the Bengals defensive line is creating. I am confident in the abilities of Leon Hall, Terrence Newman and Adam Jones for short periods of time. If any NFL QB has too much time the defense does not stand a chance. You can say this is exaggerated by a QB like Rodgers. They key to the Bengals slowing the passing game has to be disruption in the back field. Get pressure, alter timing and allow your corners and safeties the chance to make big plays.
APC: What do you believe is the Bengals' biggest advantage and disadvantage over the Packers?
CJ: Our biggest advantage has to be the tight ends. The Bengals boast a duo of Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert. Both are athletic tight ends with great hands. Last week both had more than 60 yds receiving and both are on the field together often. This creates mismatches for the defense where a safety needs to come over the top to help with coverage. This sometimes allows the Bengals greatest offensive weapon, A.J. Green, to exploit single coverage. You don't want Green in single coverage.
The disadvantage we touched on already. The Packers have so many weapons in the passing game. Green Bay is the type of team that is going to score points. The key is if you can slow them down and out score them. If the Bengals don't control the line of scrimmage and create pressure on defense, Rodgers is going to have another big day.
APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Who wins Sunday's game and why?
CJ: I don't think you can keep the Packers off the board and I do think Aaron Rodgers streak of games with 3+ passing touchdowns stays alive. I don't think it is enough to win the game.
I think this game is uncomfortable for Bengals fans that are used to seeing the defense hold teams to low scores. However, I think the Bengals continue the trend of last week with a strong second half and outscore the Packers 34 - 31. I envision the passing game of the Bengals becoming more of a talking point after this week as I think this is one area where the Bengals can create an advantage on Sunday. The Bengals already have some mismatches with the Packers defense and I think there are injuries that will do the Packers no favors if your secondary is not 100%.
We'd like to thank Mickey and Cincy Jungle for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Bengals. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for game day coverage.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn
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