September 21, 2013

Arman Three Pack Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

This week Adam and I look at three key questions facing the Green Bay Packers this week, as they head south to play the up-and-coming Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Our analysis includes talk of the Bengals defensive line, the Packers running game and A.J. Green.

1. The Bengals defensive line is said to be one of the best in the NFL, while the Packers boast one of the smallest and youngest offensive lines in the league. How many times does Rodgers get sacked and how concerned should fans be about this clear advantage for Cincinnati?

Will this image be a reoccurring theme Sunday?
Adam: I would expect McCarthy's game plan to focus on the short passing game to get the ball out of Rodgers hand early. Once Rodgers gets into a rhythm the no huddle offense is another pass rush neutralizer that can limit substitutions and wear the Bengals down. I think Rodgers get sacked 3 times on Sunday. I'm not really concerned about the pass rush. Despite their elite pass rush the Bengals haven't shown the ability to get stops in key situations this season and I expect Rodgers to make plays when he has to. Furthermore, if the Bengals think they can get away with as much man coverage as they played against the mediocre Steelers receivers Monday night, they're in for a long day. This is a game where McCarthy reminds Packer fans that he's one of the elite coaches in the NFL with a winning game plan against a strong team on the road.

Shane: The Packers shouldn't be taking this defensive line lightly. Especially being on the road with two very young and inexperienced tackles, expect Rodgers to be on the run tomorrow. I wouldn't be surprised to see him have 3-5 carries for 25-50 yards. Hate to say it, but the Packers are over matched and if Rodgers doesn't have time to throw, nothing else will matter. At the same time, if McCarthy can adjust the game plan to include more short throws, the Green Bay wide receivers could have another huge YAC day. I'd like to see Randall Cobb line up in the backfield a little more and I think it's something we could certainly see in this game. Rodgers gets sacked three times, but is hurried and hit a few more times than fans would like.

2. Assess the Packers running game going into Sunday and how they'll perform. How much action will Franklin see and will Lacy even suit up?

Adam: If Lacy is cleared to play I think the Packers would activate him with the intention of only playing him if something happened to Starks. Starks earned the opportunity to carry the load and I don't think the Packers want to rush Lacy back in a tough situation. Best case scenario Lacy gets 30% of the snaps and touches the ball 7 times. Franklin hasn't shown any explosiveness or reliability in pass protection. Considering the aforementioned Bengals pass rush, it's not the best game to test the waters with Franklin. I don't expect the Packers to have much success running the ball in this game.

Shane: It will be a tough day for the Packers running game. But they have to stick with some level of balance to keep the defense honest. I think the plays that will work are delayed hand-offs from the shot gun and pitch out plays meant to get our RBs to the edge and speeding past the Bengals big defensive line. That being said, I think Jonathan Franklin gets a surprising amount of snaps in this game as more of a flanker back. Franklin can't block for a lick so they won't ever leave him back to protect Rodgers. Franklin will fly out for a few screens and look to turn the corner on outside runs, similar to the way UCLA used him in college. This is the game to use Franklin and fans might be surprised to see him be productive in this offense. Lacy suits up but isn't used except in an emergency situation.

3. How will the Packers approach A.J. Green? Will they stick to their "new philosophy" of keeping CBs to their sides, or will Tramon draw the 1-on-1 assignment? Either way, predict Green's production and how effective you think the Packers can be in stopping him.

Adam: I'm interested to see the game plan here. I trust Tramon to make things difficult and shadow Green across the field. A.J. Green is a freak of nature and is going to get his. I fully expect Green to go for 100 yards and touchdown. I think the key to consistently stopping the Bengals offense will be preventing Dalton from attacking the middle of the field with his two pass catching tight ends. The Bengals have run a huge percentage of offense plays this year with both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert on the field. The Packers linebackers and safeties will have their hands full down the middle of the field and need to limit Dalton's effectiveness throwing between the numbers in order to get off the field on third downs.
Sam Shields is the Packers best cover corner back 

Shane: I'd actually like to see Sam Shields get the 1-on-1 assignment on Green all day.  Shields has been the Packers most impressive secondary player and he's already surpassed Tramon as the Packers number one cover CB this year. But I don't think that will happen. Both Tramon and Shields will get their shots on Green, but the Packers won't exclusively shadow Green with a single guy. That will be a mistake. Green will be especially productive out of the slot and working the soft zones in the middle of the field--the Packers' biggest weakness. I predict Shields has a least one INT and probably a few more pass-breakups, but Green still goes for 8 catches and 100+ yards.

4. Game score prediction

Adam: 27-17 Packers
Shane: 31-27 Packers

1 comment:

  1. Clearly, we disagree about Franklin. He's gonna have to get some touches in the game. I think he'll mainly be the third down back and get 10-15 touches.

    Agree with you about the middle of the field and about Bengals TEs. They could definitely do some damage and Dalton will probably look there a ton.