Brady has a keen eye to picking up blitzes, has receiver threats even when you don’t think they’re there, and has the ability to throw with pinpoint accuracy from the pocket. None of this bodes well for Cincinnati, even with the most improved defense in the NFL.
Andy Dalton has been very solid this year, and he has threats in standout WR A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and Jermaine Gresham. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will also get to show his former team how much he has the helped the Cincinnati offense down the stretch.
However, it would be more than a little far-fetched to say the Bengals have the offensive experience to match that of the Patriots.
Which means that in order for the Bengals to win, some help from the intangibles of football are needed. Things that aren’t strictly laid out on paper, and parts of the game that can’t be predicted.
The first of those is getting pressure on Brady. I know, even the 49ers will name that a high task. However, with Geno Atkins leading a formidable Bengals front-four, we’ve seen stranger things happen. The Bengals lead the NFL in sacks this year with 47, and they will want to create the same pressure against New England in the playoffs.
It isn’t just sacks that make teams fear the Bengals pass rush. Knock-downs, hits, and forcing opposing quarterbacks out of the pocket are all abilities possessed by the dangerous Cincinnati defense up front.
The fact that their secondary has improved by leaps and bound only puts the trouble offenses have against the Bengals in cement.