Key Positional Battles: Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars

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Sep 16, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis (42) runs during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals defeated the Browns 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Next, the Jaguars defense is also in the same type of dilemma. They will be without their best defensive player, outside linebacker Daryl Smith. The Jaguars have had a mediocre-at-best defense this season as they haven’t allowed many points but have struggled to get to the passer and have only one interception on the season. The loss of Smith weighs in greatly forJacksonvilleas they are going up against a red-hot Andy Dalton and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis whom is very capable of getting tough yards.

This game could very well turn into a shootout between two running backs as the Jaguars’ rusher Maurice Jones-Drew is very capable of exploiting the Bengals’ struggling linebackers. Rey Maualuga and company can’t seem to get off of their blocks and they allow lanes to open up easily which is especially dangerous against a threat like MJD. Currently, the Bengals’ defense is allowing 5.8 YPR and Jones-Drew is averaging 5.3 YPR. Those are not the kind of numbers that you would like to see if you are a Bengals fan.

The key for the Bengals is to obviously contain MJD and make Gabbert beat you with his arm. That is easier said than done, however, as the Jaguars defense has been stout enough to keep them in games so far this season. That is an important factor forJacksonvillein this match because staying within a score or two allows them to not become one-dimensional and they can keep feeding Jones-Drew the ball.

The Jaguars have the same key to the game though. They need to try to contain BJGE of the Bengals because if Cincinnati’s offense can open up the running game, the Jaguars will have to pull down a safety in run support which will allow Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green to exploit them over the top with play-action passing.

The Jaguars are better than they seem. Yes, they are 1-2 on the season and a partial reason for that record is a last minute 80-yard touchdown completion against a sleeping Colts secondary. The Bengals need to come out strong in this one and attempt to build an early lead. It is important that they are not overlooking this game and focusing on next week. The Jaguars are capable of making this one very competitive.

If the Bengals can build an early lead and get their pass rush going, then it should not be a problem for Cincinnati to easily claim a 3-1 record after Sunday. However, if they play to their “opponents’ level” as they have been criticized to do in the past, this game could very well turn out to be much closer than many fans expect.

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