An In-Depth Preview Of The Detroit Lions Week Sixteen Matchup Against The Cincinnati Bengals.
How The Bengals Have Played In 2017
The Cincinnati Bengals have had a really up and down season. While they are 5-9 currently, they had a stretch in the middle of the season where the team has its best offensive performances. When the Bengals offense has been able to get consistent production from quarterback Andy Dalton, they have excelled in games. During Dalton’s best weeks in the middle of the season, they went 5-3.
However, lately they have been looking like one of the most inept offenses in the league. They have fallen behind early and have been unable to catch up at all when asked to rely upon their passing game. The last three weeks Cincinnati has lost every game. In the last two, the only points they could muster was seven in each game. Slowing the Bengal offense has been the key to beating them this season. When the offense scores 14 or fewer points, they are 2-7 in 2017.
Matchups To Watch For
Darius Slay vs AJ Green
The best way to limit any offense is to key their best weapons and keep them in check. The Bengals best offensive weapon for some time now has been receiver AJ Green. The offense becoming anemic has hurt Green’s production in the box score, but he has displayed all of the same physical tools that have made him a threat his last seven years in the NFL.
AJ Green has some of the best body control of any receiver in the NFL. He is constantly aware of his positioning and where it relates to everyone else on the field. This helps him make some ridiculous catches on the sideline and has made a living feasting on one-on-one matchups on the outside.
This week will be no easy going as he is facing Lions stud cornerback Darius Slay who has been playing excellent all year. Slay currently leads the NFL in interceptions with seven. He has been locking up the NFL’s top receivers all season including Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas. The Lions cornerback is one of a select few cornerbacks in the NFL with the physical and technical ability Darius Slay has, to stop a threat like AJ Green.
Andy Dalton vs Glover Quin
One area that has really hurt the Bengals offense has been turnovers. While Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s 11 interceptions are not alarming, they have come at poor times and have been often been poor reads leading to balls thrown into coverage.
This is where Lions safety Glover Quin has made a living for himself in Detroit. He plays one of the best “robber” roles at safety in the NFL. Often Quin will get his interceptions in this way. The play design is that the man coverage will cause the quarterback to look to an underneath quick matchup to create separation and attempt to exploit the coverage. However, the Lions trust their safety to quickly diagnose where the quarterback is going with the ball and jump the route before it reaches the receiver for the interception.
This has been a struggling area for Dalton and could prove to be a key factor in this game with Quin lurking from the free safety position.
Jarrad Davis vs Bengals Rushing Attack
The Bengals have been the worst rushing attack in the NFL and has caused a major strain on this offense. This has usually been a tough area for Detroit to defend however. But just last week, they stuffed one of the leagues best rushers in Chicago’s Jordan Howard. Davis no longer missing tackles and the sheer physical presence he brings to the middle linebacker position was key to that success.
The Bengals have shown how unlikely it is for their team to win with a poor offensive performance. If they can make sure they bottle up this poor rushing attack, then there should be a lot less worry about the Bengals sneaking a win in Cincinnati.
Prediction: Lions Win 27-17
I expect the Lions offense to be able to roll pretty well in this game, putting too much pressure on their offense to get them back into it with their passing game. Ultimately they give the ball back to Detroit too often to make a comeback and the Lions move on to 9-6.