Bengals Preview: Week 11 at New Orleans Saints

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Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) prior to the snap during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. The Browns won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s Bengals team has been a letdown in many ways up to this point of the season. Yet, they still entrenched in the wild card race and the race to win the AFC North crown. It is still too early to call this a must win, but within their division, every win is critical. This week, the Bengals take to the road and head to the Big Easy. The New Orleans Saints are leading their division but are 4-5 on the year, so they can’t afford many more losses with how close their division is. This is a battle of who wants it more.

Cincinnati Bengals Keys to the Game

The Bengals’ defense will be a huge key against Drew Brees and Jimmy Graham. This is a deadly tandem and you can’t rely on the Bengals’ offense to battle in a shootout. The defense will need to control the Saints’ run game early and keep the passing game in check. They must win the turnover battle and can’t afford another four or five turnover game.

The offense will have to win its battles both up front and in the pass game. They can’t afford a repeat of the Thursday night game where the Browns suffocated every Bengals receiver. They must get guys like Rex Burkhead involved early, especially after Cedric Peerman’s poor performance the past two weeks.  This would give Jeremy Hill a break after many anticipated snaps. Andy Dalton must control the ball and limit turnovers; they cannot afford to give the ball away and especially deep in their own territory.

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New Orleans Saints Keys to the Game

The defense will need to find a way to keep A.J. Green and Mohammed Sanu from breaking big plays. They must get the Bengals away from a balanced offense early and force them into throwing the ball and presumably making mistakes. They must get pressure on Dalton, who gets rattled easily when under pressure, and force poor decisions.

The offense must find a way to protect Drew Brees and give him time. Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills are weapons that need time to get open, especially with the talent the Bengals possess in the secondary. They will be watching this talented core closely, especially Jimmy Graham, who has explosive speed at the second level.

Prediction

The Saints are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the 49ers at home in overtime. The Bengals are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Browns at home. It will come down to which team wants this win more. Saints push the game into overtime, where the Bengals have had little success, and win 24-21 at home.