This time around, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals – coming off a short week – who welcome the Packers to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since 2005.
Both of these teams were pegged as serious contenders in their respective conference which begs the question; could this be a preview of this year’s Super Bowl?
Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) Analysis: Cincinnati opened the season with a 24-21 loss to the Bears where they blew a fourth quarter lead in Chicago. Week two was much better as they methodically picked apart a lackluster Pittsburgh Steelers team 20-10.
The Bengals are known for their defense which has ranked in the top ten in each of the last two seasons. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins leads a 4-3 scheme that stifles opposing run defenses. This season they’re allowing only 62.5 rushing yards per game. The pass defense will instrumental against Green Bay as Leon Hall, Terrence Newman and Adam “Pacman” Jones will be busy with Green Bay’s trio of impressive wide-outs. They don’t need to do much because Atkins, considered by many to be the best interior lineman in the game, will find a way to get to Rodgers.
Pundits liked the Bengals as a sleeper Super Bowl pick because they have balance. At times, their offense can be just as explosive as the defense. Rookie running back Giovanni Bernard is coming off a two-touchdown performance and is commanding more and more snaps as the season goes on. Pair him with wide receiver A.J. Green and you’re talking about a lot of speed for third-year quarterback Andy Dalton to work with. With Green Bay’s issues at safety, expect the tight end duo of Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham to be very active.
Green Bay Packers (1-1) Analysis: Following a commendable 34-28 loss at the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers returned home to dominate Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins by the score of 38-20. The score appears a lot closer than it actually was as Green Bay played very well on both sides of the ball.
Through two games, the Packers’ offense leads the NFL in yards per game (482.5). That’s pretty crazy considering they’ve played the 49ers who boast one of the league’s best defenses. However, what else would you expect when you have the best quarterback in the game right? Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay rank second in the league with 381.5 passing yards per game. Granted, the passing game opens up a lot when you have a legitimate run game. James Starks, of all people, ran for 139 yards to break the Packers’ embarrasing 44 game streak without a century-mark runner.
As usual, Green Bay’s dynamic offense has overshadowed a defense that was plain effective against the Redskins. The team is still without safety Morgan Burnett and cornerback Jarrett Bush, yet they keep battling with guys like Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde in primarily what’s been a nickel defense. Tramon Williams will have his work cut out for him against A.J. Green this week, so the young guys need to keep playing well.
Brutally Honest Prediction: Green Bay 30 Cincinnati 24
What Rodgers (333 yards and 3 TD) did against the 49ers defense is hard to ignore. The Packers’ inexperienced offensive line has had a couple of stiff tests in the first couple of weeks and has given up six sacks. They’ll figure out a way to slow down Atkins and get their points. The game will be decided on the defensive side where Clay Matthews and company will have to get Dalton out of his comfort zone. I think they’re able to do it in a thrilling game in Cincinnati.
TV Coverage: FOX 12:00 PM CT; Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (analyst) and Pam Oliver (sidelines)
* I didn’t know the Packers have a national radio team as this crew has done all three Packers games so far.
Betting Lines: Packers favored by 2.5 and over/under set at 48.5 points.
2013 Record straight up: 2-0
2013 Record against the spread: 1-1
2013 Record in over/under: 1-1
Do you think it’s at all possible that the Packers and Bengals match-up on Sunday will be a preview of the Super Bowl? Let me know by commenting below.
Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys sharing Fantasy Advice and pretends to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at email@example.com.
*Pictures obtained from packers.com and bengals.com.