Matching Up: Bengals vs. Packers

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August 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals showed last week that they weren’t afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches as they shut down Falcons running back, Michael Turner. Green Bay does not have the same threat at running back as Atlanta, however, there is still a story line here. Former Bengals running back, Cedric Benson was just signed with the Packers and is making his debut with the team. He has already stated this week that he is looking to ‘put a licking’ on the Bengals defensive squad. Benson holds the record for the most rushing yards in a game against his former team when in 2009, he rushed for 189  yards against the Bears while he was with Cincinnati. It is doubtful that we will see anything like that out of him tonight, however, he always runs hard and it looks like he wants to show the Bengals that they were wrong in releasing him.

The passing attack of Green Bay led by Rodgers is one of the best in the league. Jordy Nelson had a break out season last year and will be a formidable opponent for the Bengals secondary. Since game three is a dress rehearsal for the regular season, look for both first team offenses to be on the field for at least the first half. This will give Bengals fans plenty of time to evaluate how the secondary will fare against such a high powered attack.

Last week against the Falcons, the secondary was impressive, bringing a bend-but-don’t-break mentality to the game. They allowed short completions, but every time the ball entered the hands of one of Matt Ryan‘s receivers, there was great wrap-up tackling by the Bengals immediately after the reception. If the Bengals can prevent yards after the catch against the Packers tonight, they will have another successful outing on their hands.

Speaking of the secondary, this will be a great test for the Bengals’ safeties. Green Bay is no stranger to going deep early and often in football games and the Bengals safeties need to prepare to not allow any Packers receiver to get behind them. It will  be important for the Bengals secondary to not give up big plays tonight as they need to focus on containing such a high-powered passing attack. This will be a great test for the likes of Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles.

Helping out the secondary will be very important tonight. The Bengals pass rush will need to step up in the absence of Carlos Dunlap. Look for interior pressure from Geno Atkins, and outside pressure from Michael Johnson and Jamaal Anderson. The Bengals need to pressure Rodgers into forcing the ball out sooner than he would like and not allowing his receivers’ routes to develop. This will be very key for Cincinnati. If they allow Rodgers time in the pocket, he will be able to pick the defense apart.

So far, the Bengals have been very good about avoiding too many costly penalties this preseason and that trend needs to continue. If the Bengals defense loses any composure and allows a Packers first down due to penalty, it could be very costly. The Bengals defensive unit needs to continue to play within themselves and keep level heads when on the field.

The same thing goes for the Bengals offense. Their offensive line needs to watch their fundamentals and technique and not give up any costly holding penalties against Green Bay’s pass rush. A loss of ten yards due to a holding penalty could be a drive-killer for the Bengals as they will be forced into throwing situations and the Packers secondary will be salivating to get their hands on a Dalton pass.

All in all, this is a great dress rehearsal for the regular season. The Packers are one of the most dominant teams in the NFL and the Bengals young up-and-coming team are looking to make a name for themselves. This is their first chance. If they can prove to the league that they can keep up with a team as deadly as the Packers, they will not be taken lightly going into the regular season.

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