This weekend the New York Giants will travel to play their third AFC North foe of the season when they take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were a playoff team, and have solid talent, but have lost four straight games. The Bengals are desperate for a win to stay relevant in a bad AFC, while the Giants are hoping to stay two games ahead of their NFC East rivals (Cowboys and Eagles, one of who has to win this weekend, meaning a loss and they are within on game of the Giants).
Having watched three Bengals games already this year before I even consider watching the Broncos-Bengals game later today I can tell you the Bengals play very similarly to the Giants. They don't run the ball that well, they have one wide receiver making plays all over the field but the rest of the wide receivers have been inconsistent, on defense they are vulnerable in the back seven, but very tough in the front four. This is what my eyes have told me. Let's see what the numbers say.
Let's break down the Bengals.
|Points per game||23.6 (15th)||28.2 (6th)|
|Passing yards per game||259.6 (11th)||263.4 (9th)|
|Rush attempts per game||25.0 (24th)||25.8 (20th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||3.8 (26th)||4.2 (14th)|
|Sacks allowed||22 (25th)||9 (1st)|
The thing that you notice immediately from just looking at the box scores is that the Bengals are having difficulty running the ball and getting first downs, which is indicative by a worse time of possession than even the Giants. he team is also in the bottom ten in most major rushing categories, though Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis has traditionally been very good at short yardage and goal line situations, and until this year had never fumbled a football. He has done so three times this year.
We also see that the Bengals have given up a lot of sacks. Low rushing yardage total and higher number of sacks generally indicates poor line play, but what is interesting is according to Pro Football Focus the Bengals have four starter offensive linemen with positive grades, and only two other offensive linemen have taken snaps, they both have negative grades.
What Pro Football Focus would be telling us than is one of three of these issues, but most likely a combination of all three is occurring in the Bengals passing game
A) The wide receivers are not creating separation (very possible, only A.J. Green is any good as of today, though they have a lot of young potential).
B) The poor run game is allowing teams to drop seven into coverage and forcing tight windows (think Giants passing game the past two weeks)
C) Andy Dalton is not playing well.
Passing leaders - Andy Dalton.
285 attempts and 182 completions (63.8 percent) for 2130 yards 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, 86.7 QB rating.
Rushing leader-Benjarvus Green Ellis
487 yards 3.4 yards per carry
Andy Dalton is actually second on the team in rushing yards with 77 yards.
No surprise here, A.J. Green leads the team with 735 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Second on the team is the talented tight end-Jermaine Gresham with 433 yards and 2 touchdowns.
A name to watch out for is Andrew Hawkins, he's a dynamic player. He's small, but very fast and has made a few very big plays this year (50+ yard touchdowns vs the Browns and Washington) though he has been held in check most games.
The offense, though, is about one player -- wide receiver A.J. Green. Green might be the best receiver in the league, and that is not an over-exaggeration. He routinely makes big plays against double coverage.
The Cincinnati offensive line is talented so it'll be interesting to see if the Giants secondary can contain what has been an average passing attack.
Right now before I look at any stats, I am confident that the Bengals can get after the passer. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, formerly of the Georgia Bulldogs, is one of, if not THE best pass-rushing interior defensive linemen in the league. The Bengals also have long athletic defensive ends, who are a notch below what the Giants have, but they can ruin football games for sure.
|Points per game||27.2 (25th)||20.6 (13th)|
|Yards per game||357.5 (20th)||382.3 (25th)|
|Passing yards per game||240.4 (19th)||264. 3 (26th)|
|Rush Yards per attempt||4.2 (13th)||4.6 (26th)|
|Sacks||23rd (10th)||25 (T 3rd)|
|Interceptions||5 (24th)||17 (T 1st)|
Keep in mind the Bengals have already had a bye so even though they have 23 sacks, they've done that in one less game than the Giants. They can rush the passer very well.
You get the feeling yet that this team is like a less-accomplished version of the New York Giants?
Neither team has done a very good job limiting yardage this year. The difference between the two teams is that the Giants take the football away a few times a game which keeps some points off the board, while the Bengals don't and that's why they give up more points per game than the Giants. If they had the same number of turnovers the Giants have caused the numbers would be eerily similar, and perhaps even better than the Giants numbers.
Tackles-Reggie Nelson has 56 tackles.
Vontaze Burfict, the controversial draft prospect who went undrafted, has 54 tackles in 6 starts and when I watched the Steelers game, he was making a lot of plays (15 tackles in this game).
Sacks-Atkins leads the team with 7 sacks. This is a defensive tackle with 7 sacks. That's crazy.
Interceptions-Chris Crocker has 2 interceptions.
The Bengals special teams return game has been pretty good. The return man is Brandon Tate. Tate is averaging 27.3 yards per kick return (pretty good) and 10.5 yards per punt return (also good).
The punter is Kevin Huber, who has been excellent this year. He is averaging 46.8 yards per punt (terrific) and has downed 16 inside the 20. There are probably only a handful punters with better numbers in the league this year. His 41.6 net return average is below average, though, and indicates either poor hang time or poor coverage team performance.
Kicker Mike Nugent has similar touchback numbers to Lawrence Tynes so here should be opportunities for returns (hopefully only one kickoff in the game. That'd be nice).
As far as kicking goes he is 14 of 16 on the year, missing two in the 40-49 range.
One departing note: Though the Giants offense has struggled recently the 49ers, Cowboys, Steelers currently rank, 2nd, 5th, and 1st in defense respectively.
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