Nov 16, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to pass in the second half against the Houston Texans at Paul Brown Stadium. The Texans won 10-6. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Key 2: Protect Dalton
Andy Dalton did everything he could get another comeback victory on the Bengals record. They fell short this time around though as the depleted secondary failed to hold in the final minute. Dalton was anything but terrible in Arizona and he will need to do that again this week. It will be just as important to protect him from the aggressive defensive line of the St. Louis Rams. Granted they face them in practice every week, Geno Atkins played an even more important role in preparing the offensive line, since Aaron Donald is a similar style player as Atkins.
Andy Dalton will also need to show patience though in the pocket and trust his line and check downs. Dalton was quick to leave the pocket and try to make plays himself, when options down field were developing, which could have led to more points or at the least scoring chances. His leadership and ability to read defenses will be key in facing Jeff Fisher‘s pressure defense.
Key 3: Injury Free
The Bengals saw their top corner, Adam Jones, out with an ankle injury, Darqueze Dennard go out for the season with a shoulder injury, Dre Kirkpatrick become limited with a knee injury, and Shawn Williams go out with an ankle issue. This team has depth but not to cover three corners going down, and loss their depth at safety. Reggie Nelson and George Iloka had no rest and had to move up in coverage, not to mention moving linebackers to cover wide receivers, I have never seen a 4.59 guy cover a 4.34, 40 yard dash guy. You will lose unless physical beyond the 5 yard cushion.
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On offense, they will look to keep Andre Smith healthy, who will most likely go on Sunday. He plays a key role in protecting Dalton. They will have the potential to rest Smith and Andrew Whitworth with the activation of Cedric Ogbuehi, who was on the designated to return IR list to start the season. The rest of the offense looks to be good to go, so keeping them injury free could play factor in keeping Dalton clean and giving them the chance to win.
The Bengals will look to keep pace with the Broncos, who they are tied for second in the AFC playoff race. If they can get the win this week, they will take a two game lead into Cleveland for a division matchup that could be the tie breaker against the Steelers for first place in the AFC North, if it comes down to that. There next two games could be key into giving them an edge in the division and conference, headed into the last four games, where they face both the Steelers and Broncos.