Early Bird Breakdown Week 3 – Bengals @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week three of the regular season. Before diving into the breakdown let’s recap last week’s game:

The Recap:

Last week Green Bay traveled to Atlanta to face the Falcons in an NFC title rematch. Like the title game, the Packers secondary was over matched by Atlanta’s offensive weapons and with injuries mounting Atlanta coasted to a 34-23 win. Things should be much easier for the Packers this week, so let’s move on to the breakdown.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Bengals’ Defense:

While Cincinnati as a team has struggled this season, the defense has been stout overall. Through two games they have given up the fifth fewest total yards per game. Led by five time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, the Bengals have a stingy enough defense to pressure Rodgers and keep scoring down, and pressure Rodgers they certainly will. It looks like once again Rodgers will be without starting left tackle David Bakhtiari and starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is only a 50/50 to play. With backup tackle Jason Spriggs placed on injured reserve this week, the Packers’ offensive line is thin and will have a tough task setting up for Rodgers and generating push for Ty Montgomery.

The best game plan Green Bay will have is to rely on short, timing routes to generate small chunks of yardage at a time and churn out long, slow drives. While Cincinnati’s defense is talented, a number of their starters can get frustrated and that results in a number of penalties. Slow, methodical drives will be key because the Bengals defense combined with the Packers’ injuries are likely going to keep the score down similar to week one’s Seahawk game.

Packers’ Defense vs Bengals’ Offense:

Packers fans will have to stomach watching another top NFL wide receiver face the Green Bay secondary for the second week in a row in six-time Pro Bowler AJ Green. To make matters worse, starters Mike Daniels (DE), Jake Ryan (ILB), Nick Perry (OLB), & Davon House (CB) all are unlikely to play.

The best help the Packers defense will get will be from the Bengal’s offense. The Bengals have failed to score a touchdown in both games so far this season. In fact, they are the first NFL team since 1939 to open a season with two home games and fail to get a touchdown. Now they travel on the road and while the Packers defense is banged up, they likely will have issues moving the ball between their new offensive scheme that defenses easily can stop and the poor play from quarterback Andy Dalton.

Dalton historically has been a pretty good quarterback but this season embarrassment is an understatement. He is averaging under 200 yards per game throwing and only completing 54% of his passes. His accuracy has been wild, sailing the ball over the head of his players in critical spots. If the Packers can at least stay within the vicinity of Green, there should be errant passes to intercept.

Cincinnati does not have tight end Tyler Effert playing today which is a big positive for Green Bay with only AJ Green as the only dynamic pass catcher letting them focus squarely on Green.

The Weather:

A hot 89 degree kickoff with humidity in Lambeau this weekend likely will cause some cramping with players and could play a factor.

The Prediction:

The Packers face a bit of a test due to the injuries on offense and defense. Cincinnati is basically in must win mode. However, even with the Packers defenses issues between health in the front seven and a secondary that allows gaping holes for the receivers, I expect Cincinnati to continue their struggles offensively. If Cincinnati’s offense struggles and the Packers are able to extend drives through short, dink-and-dunk passes, I expect this game to easily go to the Packers. Final score Green Bay wins 23-13.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University