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Cincinnati Bengals

Not Another Bengals, Saints Preview

Jeffery Carr

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© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Contrary to popular opinion, the Cincinnati Bengals (5-3) are in the driver seat for a wildcard playoff spot, heading into the second half of the season. They welcome an absolute NFC juggernaut to Paul Brown Stadium, this Sunday, in the New Orleans Saints (7-1), a team that just ended the Los Angeles Rams undefeated season. Cue the “Who dey?” or “Who dat?” debate.

The Basics

Interestingly enough, Who Dey holds a one-game advantage in its series over Who Dat. The Bengals have beat the Saints seven times out of 13. What’s interesting, though, is that New Orleans has won 4-of-7 meetings in Cincinnati. The Saints won the last meeting at PBS, in 2010, but the Bengals won their last game, at the Superdome, in 2014. In fact, since the turn of the century, the Saints have scored more than 16 points just once against the Bengals.

The Offense

You might have heard that a certain AJ Green will not be on the field this Sunday. This complicates things. The Saints have, statistically, the best rush defense in the NFL. In order for the Bengals to be successful in this game, Joe Mixon must handle the load, whether through getting lots of carries, or hauling in lots of passes. That would seem to be running into the teeth of the Saints, though, as they have handled opposing running backs. In fact, they’re the one team to hold Todd Gurley to less than 20 fantasy points, this season. Nevertheless, Bill Lazor must lean on his talented running back to find holes and get yards so that Andy Dalton doesn’t have to drop back for third-and-long plays.

Of course, Mixon will not get every play. Andy is going to have to throw it to someone. Out of the 184 total targets for the Bengals, this season, 142 have gone to either Green, or Tyler Boyd. Boyd is going to be blanketed by the New Orleans secondary, so someone else, who has had little exposure, will have to step up for the Bengals to win. The good news is (as some of you roll your eyes) John Ross is back. This will be a perfect chance for him to showcase what he can do! He hasn’t had ample opportunity to do so, but Sunday will be the best shot. Get him in space and let him fly. This will be the second challenge for Bill Lazor, because he can’t ignore Ross, now. That stat that I threw out there, that means there are some serious opportunities for Ross, Erickson, and someone of the rabble of Josh Malone, Cody Core, and Auden Tate to stand out.

A quick note on the offensive line: everyone practiced, including Billy Price. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets in for the whole game or is on some kind of snap count.

The Defense

Tall, tall task, this week. Drew Brees is, undoubtedly, one of the three best quarterbacks in this league. Dave Lapham dropped the stat on the Bengals Booth Podcast: Brees has gone 12-straight seasons throwing 4,300+ yards. 12 years in a row. I was just learning to drive, the last time he didn’t do that. And the defense will need to cover Michael Thomas, a resurgent Ben Watson, and the magnificent Alvin Kamara. Speaking of Kamara, he and Mark Ingram will put the Bengals run stoppers to the test, as well.

Firslty, Vontaze Burfict is not expected to play and neither is Nick Vigil or Darqueze Dennard, so their playing thin, again. Secondly, the defensive line may be able to put some pressure on Brees as the entire Saints offensive line showed up on the injury report, Wednesday. Now, that’s not saying they’re all going to miss Sunday, but maybe one or two will be out and some others may be less than 100%. Should be an opportunity for Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap to take advantage of a banged up line.

The Skinny

This is never something a professional football player or coach will ever admit, but the Bengals can lose this game. A win would be really awesome, especially considering the caliber of team on the other side of the field, but the NFL doesn’t use a ranking system in which the “quality” of a win matters. Plus, next week’s game is really the more important game. Will the Bengals still try to win? Duh, that’s what they’re paid to do, but I’m not losing sleep if they lose this game. They should rest the guys who aren’t quite 100%, work Price into the game, but slowly, and focus on keeping the healthy guys, healthy.

Prediction: Saints 42, Bengals 33

Follow me on Twitter @jefffcarr and also check out @lockedonBengals for more Orange and Black content.

Jeff has spent his entire life around sports. From playing baseball and golf in high school to traveling with college softball, volleyball, and men’s basketball teams as their media relations guy, sports have been at the center of his mind. Just as comfortable talking spread offenses as he is talking Sabermetrics, get ready for simplistic views of complicated sports jargon. The Queen City is his home and he is excited to write about the Reds and the Bengals.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Three-Wide Set, All My Bengals

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There was a soap opera that was on television, when I was a kid, that I would see when I stayed home sick from school. Figured the title fits what has happened with the Bengals the last few days, so I tweaked it for this week’s three-wide set, what’d you think?

  1. Teryl Austin out, Marvin Lewis in…again.So the most obvious move, ever, happened Monday with the separation of the Bengals and their defunct defensive director. Austin seemed like a good guy, and all, but his defense was horrendous. In case you’ve lived under a rock and are just now delving into the Bengals 2018 season, they are last in all the NFL in yards allowed. Somehow, they are not last, but second to last in points allowed. In fact, as Jay Morrison remarked on Twitter, the Bengals are 11th in points scored this season, but 28th in point differential. That’s how bad this defense has been. One more oh wow moment with bad defense is I am pretty sure, without looking, that the last two Bengals opponents haven’t punted. (Checks stats) Ok, they forced two punts in the Buccaneers game. That being said, opposing offenses had converted over 50% of their third down attempts against the Cincinnati defense. That’s not great. Oh, and one more, one more, oh wow moment: the Bengals became the first team in NFL history to allow 500+ yards in three-straight games…okay, I am done.
    Enter Marvin to “fix” the defense. Not sure it can be done, at this point, but to be real, it can’t get worse. Like, when you’re last, you can’t be more last. Just like if you’re dead, you can’t die again. Yet, somehow, with the worst defense in the league, the Bengals are not dead.  Lewis can schematically fix the defense (which doesn’t help the tackling) and may be able to up the ante on the pass rush, as this defense has been the most passive I’ve seen since Marvin came aboard, but will it be enough? If they pull out a win this Sunday in Baltimore, it will put them in a nice spot for the 2nd wild card spot, if they don’t get it together and lose to Baltimore then the three-wide set might start looking at three draft prospects for the Bengals, each week.
  1. Hue Jackson is back, again again. Welcome back home Mike Brown’s favorite son not named Marvin. The prodigal son returns as he, once again, tried to take his inheritance and go off to another team to make a name for himself, only to find himself, yet again, an assistant on the Bengals coaching staff. This time it’s very Dwight Schrute-esque as he is the “Special Assistant to the Head Coach.” Read that, “assistant to the head coach,” not “assistant head coach.” Here’s hoping Bill Lazor puts his stapler in jello.
    I really do not know how to feel. The “in the moment” side of me likes it for the simple fact he can provide inside info on the Browns, who the Bengals haven’t played, and he might be able to help out a now double-duty Marvin. But the “big picture” side of me hates this. Now it gives a reason for Mike Brown to let go of Marvin Lewis, after his contract expires, and seamlessly transition to another coach he likes. Brown now doesn’t have to go through the necessary, desperately needed painful process of interviewing new coaches who could possibly provide fresh-thinking to a team that desperately needs it. Instead he can hand over the keys to the coach’s office, without any hullabaloo, to a man who does not deserve it (objectively) but, rather, is someone who Mike Brown sees as a son. Ugh…
  1. John Ross scored! That’s right, much congratulations to the man who has endured a lot of criticism, a lot of vitriol, a lot of unnecessary hate…I am talking, of course, about our fearless podcast host, James Rapien. I thought Ross looked good, I thought Andy was bad. JR15 was getting separation, making some guys miss on their coverage…and the ball fell short. Dalton underthrew him. What was the joke when Ross was drafted? “Great, now we can have the fastest dude in the NFL for Andy to still overthrow.” Well, he wasn’t overthrown, he was underthrown. Seriously, there was a tweet, can’t remember who (probably Joe Goodberry), that showed all of John Ross’ targets. The ones he didn’t catch, were bad throws. Plain and simple. Those who criticize Ross are not looking at the whole picture. I think he gets better and I think Andy can build a rapport with him, maybe even this week at Baltimore. Point is, fans and haters, John Ross is going to be just fine.

This is the biggest game of the year, this Sunday, at M&T Bank stadium. Last year, the Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs there. Will the Ravens get revenge? Or will the Bengals continue their recent dominance over the Ravens (eight wins in the last 10 games)? Stay tuned!

Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals for more Cincinnati professional football content

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Cincinnati Bengals

Reacting to Austin’s firing and our film review with Joe Goodberry

James Rapien

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I discuss the Bengals firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Marvin Lewis taking over for him, plus Joe Goodberry joins me for our weekly film review. We talk about the Bengals’ 51-14 loss to the Saints, what can be fixed on defense, their issues on offense and more. Listen and subscribe to the podcast below.

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Cincinnati Bengals

The Saints march all over the Bengals 51-14

James Rapien

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The Saints dismantled the Bengals 51-14 on Sunday afternoon. Cincinnati falls to 5-4 and continues to struggle following a 4-1 start to the season. I recapped them game, discussed the defensive struggles, plus hear from Drew Brees, John Ross and I respond to your voicemails on a postgame edition of the Locked on Bengals podcast. Listen and subscribe below.

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