The Bengals once again travel to MetLife Stadium. This time, it’s a battle with the New York Giants. Cincinnati has lots to prove Monday night.
It seems like the Bengals haven’t played since the beginning of the season. Ironically, Cincinnati will face the New York Giants in the same place. MetLife Stadium will be the scene of a do-or-die battle on Monday Night Football. When the Bengals take the field under the stars, the stakes will once again be high. Making the playoffs for a sixth straight year will be on the line.
If the Bengals plan on marching into the postseason, there’s no time left for talking. Monday night has to be the start of a huge turnaround that will propel them to the next level. The Ravens offered no help as they stomped the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night. Reclaiming the AFC North will have to be the result of intensified play and sheer determination. The North looks like a weak division this year. Now is the time to take control and offer a repeat of 2012.
Here are some things to watch when the Bengals and Giants tangle on MNF.
The Bengals Offense In The Red Zone
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It’s no secret that Ken Zampese isn’t winning many fans, in his first year as offensive coordinator. But, in his defense, Cincinnati is racking up the yards. Going into Week 10, the offense isn’t looking so shabby in the rankings. Zampese’s scheme has the Bengals sitting at No. 6 in the league. Not bad for a first-year coordinator. But, those yards need to be converted into points. In the scoring race, Zampese’s squad is in the lower half of the NFL at No. 21.
The passing game is keeping the Bengals alive. But, the ground game has come to life. Cincinnati’s rushing attack is ranked 7th. On the other end of the spectrum, the Giants defense is ranked 9th against the run.
Tyler Eifert had a solid return against the Redskins. Eifert’s presence was immediately felt. The Bengals’ red zone scoring percentage in the first six games was 42.1. With Tyler in the mix, the last two games have taken the number to 83 percent. Zampese will have to put on his Sam Wyche hat to get things going against the Giants. New York’s D is only allowing TD’s 39.3 percent of the time.
Revamped Defense Against Manning
He’s not Peyton but he can sling the rock like him. Eli Manning will come out throwing Monday night. With the Bengals giving up 262.4 yards per game, Eli is probably licking his chops.
Manning likes to have time to find his favorite target Odell Beckham Jr. Paul Guenther will have to drop his usual game plan and think outside the box. It’s time to find some exotic blitz packages…and use them. Giving Manning too much time will result in utter chaos for the Bengals defense. Beckham has the speed and smarts to break off a route and get into space. Once there, shaky arm tackles and slow linebackers won’t get the job done.
This will be a perfect time to see how well the Bengals corners play bump-and-run defense. Getting a hand on the Giants receivers and then staying in smothering coverage will help the front seven.
As good as Andy Dalton has been, this will be the true test. His performance in London was good but not good enough. In order to be considered an elite quarterback, Dalton needs to get this type of game under his belt. The Bengals offense has to click like a well-oiled machine. In other words, the Bengals have to be the high-powered offense of last season.
Dalton is 5-9 in primetime and 2-2 on Monday night. The International Series game had a big time feel. Andy has to make winning under pressure his middle name. Getting over the .500 mark will also get his team closer to the playoffs. It all starts under the lights.