coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/18/2013 06:05 PM in NFL

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals: Preview and Pick

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals: Preview and Pick

After an opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers the Green Bay Packers needed a big win and they got it in week two when the faced the defenseless Washington Redskins. Although the win was impressive this week the Packers take a step up in competition when the travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are off to a solid start and arguably have one of the best defenses in the league which will make for an interesting matchup.

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals Odds

The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Bengals as (-1) point favorites. Although the Bengals won they are on a short week and they are not getting the attention of public bettors after the domination of Green Bay last week. In fact one look at the line will show you that the Green Bay Packers are getting plenty of action. The line jumped and instead of the Bengals being one point favorites, they are now (+2.5) point underdogs at most of the top rated online sportsbooks. The latest look at a sports consensus site will show that over 80 percent of the public is betting on the Packers.
The Packers are all about Aaron Rodgers and they should be because he is one of the best quarterbacks in the world. But rookie running back Eddie Lacy is hurt and that could hamper the running game.

The Bengals defense will have to keep an eye on one Green Bay receiver. James Jones set career highs with 11 catches on 12 targets for 178 yards on Sunday. Jones caught six passes that went for first downs, and had caught more than six passes in a game only three times in his career.

The Bengals will be up for this challenge and this should be one great game.

The latest look at NFL betting trends show that the Bengals are in a good spot to win this game. The Bengals are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game and 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 games after accumulating more than 350 total yards in their previous game. The Packers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win of more than 14 points, 1-5 against the spread (ATS) in the last six games on turf and 1-4 ATS in the last five games overall on the road.

Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 01:54 PM

The Packers' first 100-yard rushing performance in nearly three years has apparently earned running back James Starks the starting job for Sunday's game at Cincinnati.

Starks rushed for 132 yards on 20 carries in last Sunday's 38-20 win over Washington, giving the Packers their first 100-yard rusher since Brandon Jackson on Oct. 10, 2010.

The fourth-year running back relieved rookie Eddie Lacy, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion after taking a helmet hit from safety Brandon Meriweather in first quarter.

Starks snapped the Packers' streak of 44 regular-season games without a 100-yard running back.

"James Starks is definitely someone I look at as a starter [with] the ability to run as many times in a football game as needed," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday. "James will get the starting opportunity this week."

Lacy did not practice Wednesday but attended the workout, an indication he has passed through at least part of the concussion protocol.

"He looks good," McCarthy said. "He's in the meetings, and that's always a positive sign, but he's got a couple more tests in front of him that he has to pass before he'll be able to practice."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 01:59 PM

If they keep up at their current pace, Packers receivers Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones will shatter the 1,000-yard yardage pleateau.

Cobb has 16 catches for 236 yards, which would put him on pace for 1,888 receiving yards in a full season. Nelson (10 catches, 196 yards) is on pace for 1,568 yards and James Jones (11 catches, 178 yards) would be headed for a 1,424-yard season.

Jones said prior to the start of the season that he would like to see three Packers receivers go over 1,000 yards. They can’t possibly keep up this pace, can they?

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers weighed in on that lofty goal. “That’s a pretty high bar there,” said Rodgers. “I think it’s possible. We have some great weapons. We’ve been throwing it around a lot the first two games. It just depends on how teams are going to play us.”

Rodgers said the Packers’ resurgent running game last week could help the receivers. “If you have that balance you’re going to have the opportunity to spread it around a little bit,” said Rodgers. “I told the guys, I reminded them, I’m going to go through my progressions and I’m going to throw to the open guy and the high percentage throw. Some games it might be a few targets and some games it could be 15 but to those guys’ credit, they run their routes to win all the time and they’re incredible after the catch. It’s my job to put the ball in the proper number and the proper spot and allow them to make some plays after the catch. If it shakes down that they’re around 1,000 at the end of the year, then so be it.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 02:01 PM

The Bengals made a series of roster moves Wednesday afternoon that included placing 10-year veteran Robert Geathers on injured reserve. The defensive end suffered a season-ending elbow injury against Pittsburgh on Monday night.

In addition to placing Geathers on IR, the Bengals re-signed free agent safety Jeromy Miles after waiving him just before Monday's game. Miles cleared waivers this week.

The Bengals also signed free agent Curtis Marsh. The third-year player from Utah State was a third-round pick by Philadelphia in 2011. Across the 2011-12 seasons, he played in 22 games, including 15 last season, when he had 10 special teams tackles and six on defense. He was on the Eagles' preseason roster this year but missed time because of a fractured hand. He was waived by the Eagles on Sept. 5.

Marsh was at practice Wednesday afternoon. He likely takes a post vacated by linebacker J.K. Schaffer, a 2013 offseason signee who was waived by the Bengals after having been moved off the practice squad to the 53-man roster just before Monday's game. A Cincinnati native and University of Cincinnati product, Schaffer appeared in the 20-10 victory over the Steelers. It is expected that Schaffer will be returned to the practice squad Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Bengals terminated the contract of veteran running back Bernard Scott.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/20/2013 06:45 PM

The Green Bay Packers got into the win column last week after they dominated the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field, 38-20. Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a career day completing 34-of-42 for 480 yards and four touchdowns. Also shining in the Packers’ win was running back James Starks who took over for the concussed Eddie Lacy and had the best day of his career, rushing for 132 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown.

The Cincinnati Bengals also got their first win of the season Monday night as they beat up on division rival Pittsburgh Steelers. In the win, Bengals’ tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham combined to catch nine passes for 132 yards. Rookie sensation Giovani Bernard scored two touchdowns, one via the run and the other via the pass, as the Bengals went on to win the game 20-10.

The Packers and Bengals will meet Sunday for just the 11th time in the regular season since 1971. The Bengals hold the slight advantage over the Packers with a head-to-head record of 6-5 against Green Bay.

There will be a number of story lines to watch for, but here are five in particular that we will be watching closely.

5.) How will the Packers match-up with the Bengals’ tight ends?
It’s no mystery that star tight ends have had a tremendous amount of success against the Packers’ pass coverage in recent history. Just look at week one for the most recent example. 49ers‘ tight end Vernon Davis gashed the Packers for six catches and 98 yards and two big touchdowns.

The Packers’ linebackers really struggle to cover tight ends – in particular, A.J. Hawk. Through two games quarterbacks have a quarterback rating of 125.0 when targeting A.J. Hawk and a quarterback rating of 118.8 when targeting Brad Jones - these two players are predominantly matched up with other teams’ tight ends.

That’s potentially bad news for Green Bay as Cincinnati sports two very dynamic tight ends, Gresham and Eifert. So far this season Gresham and Eifert have combined for 19 catches for 214 yards in just two games. The Packers will have to find a way to limit the production of the Bengals’ tight ends.

4.) Can Green Bay limit A.J. Green?
The quick answer is no, but that may not be a bad thing. I encourage you to read Tom Silverstein’s piece on the “big” days wide receivers have had against the Packers recently. Silverstein is a Packers’ beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In short, receivers who have had major success against the Packers’ secondary usually have come out on the losing side of the game. In fact, when opposing receivers have “big” games, as Silverstein defines, that said team is just 4-13 against the Packers in the last 17 games.

Bengals’ receiver A.J. Green is among the best receivers in the NFL and there is no doubt he is going to put up some gaudy numbers on Sunday. The key for the Packers is to hold him out of the end zone. He can gain all the yards he wants in between the 20s, but the Packers must eliminate the big scoring plays.

3.) Can Green Bay keep Rodgers upright?
This was a key to the Packers’ victory last week, and has also shown up on each of my first two game previews. It will once again be important Sunday. The Bengals have arguably the best defensive line in the NFL that is capable of dominating a game by itself.

From Carlos Dunlap to Geno Atkins, to Michael Johnson over to Robert Geathers, the Bengals are loaded on the defensive line.

It has been a solid start to his career for Packers’ rookie left tackle David Bakhtiari. He hasn’t appeared overmatched at all against some of the NFL’s best pass rushers he has faced. After a slow start in week one, guards T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton had great performances against the Redskins. Don Barclay also shook off a slow start last week and rebounded for a solid game. The weak link continues to be Evan Dietrich-Smith. Dietrich-Smith has been so-so in both pass and run protection and appears to be a position of weakness for the Packers’ high-octane offense.

Packers have to keep Rodgers clean all day in order to have success against a very well-balanced and stingy Bengals’ defense.

2.) Green Bay must run the ball effectively
With the Bengals’ sporting one of the NFL’s best defensive lines, it will be imperative for the Packers to be able to run the ball successfully Sunday. The Packers got one of their best rushing performances in a while last Sunday as they were able to run for 139 yards against the Redskins. That most likely won’t be the case Sunday.

The Bengals have the 7th best rush defense in the NFL and finished last season with the 12th best rush defense. It will be tough for the undersized Packers’ offensive line to move the big bodies of the Bengals defensive line, but they will have to find some sort of success to avoid becoming one dimensional and allowing the Bengals’ defensive line to tee off on Rodgers.

1.) Will the Bengals be able to score enough to win the game?
While the Bengals certainly have found a way to surround their quarterback Andy Dalton with a plethora of offensive weapons, Dalton himself has yet to take the next step in his career. To many, Dalton is still just an average quarterback with a lack of ability to stretch the field. Throwing a deep ball up for grabs to Green (which is done often) is hardly a game plan for stretching the field.

The Packers can be counted on to score at least 20 points per game. Can the Bengals score that much? So far in their two games this season they’ve scored 21 and 20 points, respectively – that won’t beat the Packers Sunday. Including the playoffs last season, the Bengals failed to score more than 23 points nine times.

Packers’ defensive coordinator Dom Capers is very good against quarterbacks who are facing him for the first time. The Packers’ defense will have the advantage over Dalton and the Bengals’ offense in terms of familiarity on Sunday. Look for Capers to keep up his heavy blitzing tendencies early in the season this Sunday

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/21/2013 11:47 AM

The Green Bay Packers didn’t figure to have high sack numbers after the first two weeks of the season. They were facing two mobile quarterbacks, San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Washington’s Robert Griffin III, and priority No. 1, especially against Kaepernick, was to keep them contained in the pocket. That meant pass-rushers could not over-pursue and blitz opportunities would be rare.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the Packers rank 24th out of 32 NFL teams with just three sacks, or that they stand 25th in sack percentage (sacks per opponent passing attempt) at 3.8 percent, well below the league average of 6.9 percent.

This Sunday the Packers face a considerably less mobile quarterback in Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, so the game should provide a better measure of where the Packers are from a pass-rush standpoint.

“Obviously we strive for sacks around here and disrupting the quarterback; we’ll see where we’re at after this week,” said Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who has one of the team’s three sacks this season. “Obviously we’re getting back to a more traditional offense that we’re used to seeing. So it’ll be a good test against a good quarterback, a good receiving group and a good O-line. We’ll see where we’re at after this game.”

In defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheme, the Packers don’t expect major sack production from their interior defensive linemen. Last year, defensive tackle B.J. Raji had what the team considered one of his best seasons, yet he didn’t have a single sack. Opportunities for defensive linemen to pin their ears back and “jet rush,” as Capers calls it, are not the norm.

As Capers explained things on Friday, when he does call for linemen to jet rush he still uses two contain rushers.

“We need to get after the passer whether we’re in a jet rush or a transition rush,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It doesn’t matter. That’s excuse football. Whatever our assignment is when they’re passing the ball, or we’re in pass coverage, we need to get that done.”

That said, Capers may call more jet rushes than he did the first two weeks.

“We want to be cognizant of our rush lanes and rush integrity, but we don’t have the pressure – not that Dalton can’t run it, but he’s not Kaepernick or RG III – so in that sense we can allow guys like Clay, our rushers to do that a little more,” Raji said.

Last season, the Packers finished fourth in sacks with 47 and had 15 different players register at least one full sack, with Matthews leading the way with 13 despite missing four games.

Pass rushing isn’t just about sacks, although there’s no denying the impact of them. Hitting the quarterback can be almost as effective. Through two games, though, the Packers have just 13 combined hits, or 6.5 per game. Last season, they averaged 8.7 quarterback hits per game, according to team statistics.

“Hopefully this week presents us an opportunity to really pin our ears back and get after the quarterback,” Matthews said.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/22/2013 07:09 AM

This game will be one of the best to watch today as the Bengals will get a true test after playing the Steelers on a short week. The line jumped and the home team went from favorite to dogs, but I will back the better defense and the points.

Pick: Bengals +2.5