The story line of this weeks game versus Cincinnati is without question all of the injuries sustained in the Atlanta loss last weekend. The Packers face key players like Mike Daniels, David Bakhtiari, Bryan Bulaga, Randall Cobb, and Nick Perry not being able to play this week or even in future weeks for some of them. The injury report suggests that both Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga will likely be out there in this game. Fortunately for Green Bay, they have capable replacements on their roster to fill holes at most of the beat up positions. Guys like Dean Lowry, Geronimo Allison, Ahmad Brooks, and Kyle Murphy will certainly have their work cut out for them in this match up.
The Bengals have had more than their fair share of struggles as well. The team opened the season 0-2 and have yet to score a touchdown this season. The team fired their offensive coordinator this week after what the media was calling a “near mutiny” in the locker room. Because of the Bengals struggle on offense, the Packers open as heavy favorites at home with a 9 point spread.
Just as I do every week, in this post I will examine 5 players you should keep your eyes on in this weeks upcoming game against the Bengals. I choose 2 defensive players, 2 offensive players, and 1 player from the opposing team. I’ll also give my prediction for the game. Lets dive in…
Players to Watch
1. WR Geronimo Allison
G-Mo had a relatively quiet night against the Falcons with 3 catches for 24 yards. One thing I’ve noticed with him is that he seems quicker since the end of last season. He picked up some extra yards after one of his catches last week, which really impressed me personally. With Randall Cobb having not practiced the last two days in any capacity, Allison figures to get plenty of snaps as the next wide out on the depth chart. Randall Cobb had two big nights the last two games, so Geronimo Allison will need to be a contributor for this offense to move effectively.
2. TE Martellus Bennett
Many players struggles in the loss at Atlanta, and one of them was Marty Bennett. We saw Bennett drop passes multiple times in the first half, a couple of which were crucial passes he really needed to catch. Bennett would go on to have 5 catches for 47 yards after a stronger second half. I will not question Bennett’s abilities, I just think he had a rough day.
Bennett’s status as a player to watch is mainly because of a lack of production in his first two games. You’ll want to keep a close eye on him to see if he has a bounce back game. The Packers decided to sign Bennett instead of Jared Cook this offseason in hopes that this would provide an upgrade at TE. Many worried that Cook fit the offense better as a field stretcher but liked Bennett better as a blocker. Marty has a lot yet to prove this season, however I do think he shows he was very worthy of bringing in as our starter at TE before the year is over.
3. OLB Clay Matthews
I heard far too much scrutiny of Clay Matthews this week, and I will never understand why. The man had his best game in years out there last Sunday. 5 tackles 1.5 sacks and multiple other quarterback hits made Clay Matthews look like Clay Matthews again. With the recent news of Nick Perry’s finger surgery, Clay will have even more weight on his shoulders to produce. Fortunately, the Packers recent acquisition of Ahmad Brooks will fill Perry’s spot just fine. Matthews is in the “can he do it again?” category this week. The Packers need more sack production from Matthews now more than ever. We will see what he can do this Sunday…
4. CB Kevin King
How good did this guy look in Atlanta? Very good. I would be shocked if rookie CB Kevin King was not starting on the outside in this game, especially with Davon House injured. Kevin KIng was graded 85.4 as the 7th highest cornerback by Pro Football Focus for his performance last weekend. He was targeted 3 times, and allowed 0 catches for an opposing passer rating of 39.6.
This is what the team drafted the young corner for, they needed someone reliable out there and that’s exactly what they got against Atlanta in King. He may be the teams best option to cover Julio Jones in a potential meeting in the playoffs. Who better to cover a speedy 6’3 wideout than a speedy 6’3 cornerback right? King also flashed as a tackler again like we saw him do so many times in the preseason. This game will tell us as fans a lot about what to expect from him going forward this season.
5. QB Andy Dalton
It’s no secret that Andy Dalton has struggled this season. The name Colin Kaepernick has arisen in the locker room as someone the players would rather have as their quarterback than current starter Andy Dalton. It is very obvious to me that the Bengals would experiment with backup AJ McCarron before signing a free agent quarterback. By any estimation, Dalton’s play could drastically alter this game. If the Dalton we saw in 2015 shows up, the Packers will be in for a tough day in pass defense. The Andy Dalton who I think will show up will be the one we saw the last two weeks. The way he has played with plenty of offensive weapons just isn’t going to cut it against the Green Bay team at home.
Green Bay: 30
The Bengals will get their first touchdown this week, but it will not be a pretty game offensively for Dalton and company. Green Bay should get plenty of possessions in this game barring the Bengals being able to run the ball effectively. With the increased number of possessions 12 should be able to find the end zone three or more times, but I do believe some of their drives will stall for field goals in this game. This Bengals defense is no joke. Packers 30-17.