After a 1-0 start to week 3 with a winner on Thursday night, I look to improve on that and have a big Sunday. I picked out a game that I’m sure has plenty of fan interest across the NFL, as the Green Bay Packers travel to Cincinnati for an afternoon matchup with the Bengals. Both teams figure to be in a position to be fighting for a playoff spot later in the season, so this is an important game for both clubs. I think this is one of those games one of these teams will look back on and view this as the game as to why they didn’t clinch a berth, or have a higher seed. Both teams have pieces in place, so it isn’t out of the question that the Packers or Bengals could make some noise in the playoffs. The Bengals would perhaps be more of a surprise, but nevertheless, they are a solid football team that will give fits any given Sunday.
The Bengals are a well-rounded team that boasts weapons on offense and defense. In fact, I would say that the Bengals are a more complete than the Packers are. The Packers have a scary offense that can light most anyone up, but the defense is seriously lacking. In today’s NFL, though, that may be all you need to win yourself a Super Bowl. There are several teams in recent memory that got by with an okay defense and still captured the Super Bowl, including these Green Bay Packers. Has the Packers’ defense fallen off that much that they’ll end up with a loss on Sunday? Read on to get a better glimpse into that.
Packers vs. Bengals Betting Odds:
Green Bay Packers -3(-110)
@ Cincinnati Bengals +3(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Packers vs. Bengals Pick:
Yes, the defense has indeed taken a backseat to the offense. If they got just an ounce of defense in week 1 then they probably would have beat the 49ers. Last week they didn’t need much defense in their arsenal to defeat the Washington Redskins, 38-20. The Packers gave up 20 points, but it was already an epic blowout before the Redskins even got on the board, entering half time with a 24-0 lead. It could have been even worse, but James Jones fumbled the ball into the pylon which resulted in a touchback with seconds ticking down in the first half. The Packers were able to do whatever they wanted to offensively, which I think is a reflection of both the Packers’ offense and the state of the Redskins on defense in 2013. The Packers slowed the pace down after the 24-0 lead, but still managed to add another couple touchdowns in the second-half. They lost receiver Greg Jennings in the offseason, but the Packers have just reloaded, getting improved efforts from the rest of the receiving core. Even without Jennings, the Packers spread the wealth around to a number of reliable options including Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley, and who I mentioned earlier, James Jones. All bring a different dynamic to the offense, which makes it difficult for defenses to stop. So far this season, the Packers have showcased just that, as they are 1st in total offense at 482.5 yards per game. They are also 2nd in points scored per game at 33, way behind the Denver Broncos who are at a gaudy 45. It is a small sample size, but I expect the Packers’ offense to look much of the same way they have the previous two weeks. Aaron Rodgers may not hit 480 yards like he did last week against the Redskins, but he’s going to make the Bengals’ defense work on Sunday.
Speaking of the Bengals’ defense, they aren’t all that bad. I have actually dubbed them one of the most underrated units in all of football for the last couple of years. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green kind of steal the spotlight, but defense is going to be the determining factor of how many games this team wins. It’s hard to judge them off of their Monday night game against the Steelers, because well, the Steelers have the worst offensive line in all of the NFL, and have a bottom 5 offense because of it. The Packers have a young offensive line, so the Bengals defensive line vs. the Packers o-line will be the key to this game. They absolutely mauled the Steelers’ offensive line, not even letting one of the best in the business, Ben Roethlisberger, escape from pressure. In addition, they currently lead the NFL in sacks. The Bengals didn’t need to do much against the Steelers defensively last week, but they held up admirably against an above average Bears team in week 1 even though they lost, 24-21. In the first two weeks the Bengals are 6th in total team defense, allowing only 17 points a game.
The Bengals are a team that will get a little of that on offense and a little more on defense. That is how they win games, hit a few big plays to A.J. Green and let the defense take care of the rest. It sounds simple, but I think with this team it is a recipe for success. However, the Bengals are entering Sunday with some depth issues on defense after Dre Kirkpatrick suffered a hamstring injury last week. Consequently, the Bengals went and signed former Philadelphia Eagle Curtis Marsh. I don’t know much about Marsh, but what I do know is that the Eagles’ defense is atrocious, so not making their roster is cause for concern. Kirkpatrick hasn’t played much of a role this season, thus, this would only be a problem if another corner happened to go down Sunday.
The Packers aren’t stupid, and I think they’ll try and play away from the Bengals strengths, which is the pass rush. The Packers will also force the tempo and run a hurry-up offense, something the Bengals haven’t seen this season yet. At the end of the day though, I think catching points at home against a young offensive line is the way to go. I said earlier that the key to this game will be the Bengals’ pass rush, which I think will be just enough to pick up a big win against the Packers at home. The public is hammering the Packers, but I think I’m going to jump on with the minority and make a play on the Bengals in week 3.
PICK: Bengals +3 (-110)