Thursday, October 08, 2015

Four and Uh-Oh

Last week the Bengals beat down the Chiefs to improve their record to 4-0.

Now their next opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, come to town.  I don't buy into the Seahawks 2-2 record.  They are always a tough team to beat.  It's going to be a great test for this young Cincy team.

If they ever want to be taken seriously, here is a great chance to do just that.  Of course, we said that same thing last year when Cincy was 3-0 and coming off a bye facing the Pats who had just gotten killed by the Chiefs.  And it wasn't good for Cincy.

But just maybe the Bengals can win a big early season game, just like they did in 2013 when they beat the Pats in Cincy 6-13.

The good when it comes to the 4-0 Bengals:

Andy Dalton.  He has played out of his mind and is third in the league in QB rating.  He is money on third down and would set a franchise record with his 10 plus yards per throw.  If Dalton avoids throwing interceptions (which, given that the Seahawks have the league's best secondary, The Legion of Boom, that would be quite a feat) and can convert on third down, the Bengals stand a solid chance of beating the Seahawks.

The offensive line.  The Bengals have only given up two sacks.  They are a huge reason Cincy is 4-0. Andy has a lot of time to throw the ball, and the line has done a great job opening holes for both Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard.  Hopefully, they can keep Seattle's stellar defensive line off of Andy and open some holes for the running backs.

Hue Jackson.  Cincy's offensive coordinator.  He is killing it too.  He has so many weapons at his disposal.  As I posted last week - in week 1 vs Oakland, Tyler Eifert was the star with over 100 yards receiving and 2 TDs.  In week 2 vs San Diego, Gio filled in for Hill, who had two costly fumbles, and went over 100 yards rushing with 6 yards per carry.  In week 3 vs Baltimore, AJ Green went nuts and hauled in 10 catches for 227 yards and 2 TDS.  Last week, Jeremy Hill only managed 40 yards rushing, but he scored 3 TDs and scored on a two point conversion.  In addition to those guys, Marvin Jones and Mo Sanu are threats.  So is Rex Burkhead who is great in the slot or out of the backfield.  And there is Brandon Tate, their fourth receiver and punt/kick returner, who has played all of one offensive snap this season.  It just happened to be good for an amazing 55 yard TD catch from Dalton on third and 11.  So many weapons.  With any luck, Seattle will be spread too thin and won't be able to contain every single one of these guys.

Cincy's defensive line.  They have 11 sacks already this season.  Last year they only managed 20 sacks, so in a quarter of a season they're halfway to where they were last year.  Hopefully, Geno Atkins can collapse the interior of Seattle's line, which features some young guys who are actually converted defensive linemen, to wreak havoc.  Hopefully, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson, Cincy's defensive ends, can put some pressure on Russell Wilson, who has been sacked more than just about any quarterback this season, while containing him so he doesn't get outside and make plays.

Reasons to worry.

The defense.  The line has gotten sacks, but the defense gave up a ton of yards to a rather unimpressive Chiefs offense.  Can the linebackers - who really need star Vontaze Burfict - back from injury asap - contain Beast Mode and contain Wilson?

The offensive line's penchant for penalties.  Several promising scoring drives have been killed by holding penalties.  The line will have to play a perfect game to beat Seattle.  There is no way Dalton can face too many third and longs against The Legion of Boom.  That just spells disaster for Cincy.

Mike Nugent.  Our erratic kicker.  He has won several games for the Bengals (most notably the 13-10 victory in Pittsburgh in 2012 that put Cincy in the playoffs and - best of all- eliminated the Steelers), but he has been sketchy.  He missed four field goals against the Falcon early last year.  Then he missed a possible game winner in OT against the Panthers last year that resulted in a tie.  If the game comes down to a 36 yard field goal, I don't have much faith in Nugent.

Hopefully, Cincy can get out to their best start since 1988.  But we'll see.

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