BLUE FRIDAY MATCH UP FOCUS, NFL

The Blue Friday Match Up: The Cincinnati Bengals

Going into the season, I looked at all the moves the Bengals had made and couldn’t help but shake my head. The Carson Palmer mess, the T.O, and Chad Ochocinco experiment failure, and the new decision to go with youth in on offense didn’t spell success to me…..And that’s exactly why I coached high school football players, and not NFL players. At 4-2, the Bengals are doing just fine.

QB Andy Dalton has has proven the NFL game isn’t too big for him, and the cohesiveness shown with his young receivers has been impressive. But this isn’t the strength of this team. That’s the defense. Wow, who would have thought the Steelers would have to take a backseat to this Bengals defensive squad. What’s even more impressive is the fact that the AFC North boasts 4 of the top five defenses in football. How awesome for the Seahawks that they get to play them this year..ugh.

This is a must win game for the Seahawks. So let’s see how they stack up against the Bengals.

When the Bengals have the Ball:

Cedric Benson is going to be sitting this one out due to a suspension so Benard Scott will get the bulk of the carries. That’s two weeks in a row that the Seahawks will get a back up running back. Will the Bengals follow the Browns winning strategy of Run-Run-Run, and more run? In Seattle, that may be difficult.

Lets take a look at the Bengals running attack (all stats taken from profootballfocus.com, and the NFL Gamebooks)

This focus on the midline could change dramatically without Cedric Benson. I’m anticipating the Bengals using more off tackle runs directed at Chris Clemons. With Red Bryant, Alan Branch, and Brandon Mebane stuffing the run, I don’t anticipate a lot of success in the run game.

The Bengals passing attack is competent but not overly powerful. Andy Dalton is completing 62% of his passes this year, which is extremely impressive considering his rookie status. His knack for ball control is also something of note. His 5 turnovers, are also better than 17 other QBs this year. looking at the the Bengal offense you will see a striking similarity to the last offense the Seahawks just faced. Difference is in the personnel we will be facing. It’s worth noting the trust that Andy Dalton has in his fellow rookie WR AJ Green. This receiving corps could be trouble for our very inexperienced secondary. Losing CB WalterThurmond last week may be a huge issue against this group.

Looking at the Lineman, the name that comes to mind is LT Andrew Whitworth. According to ProFootballFocus.com, he has only allowed 5 pressures, 1 QB hit, and 1 sack all year. That’s incredible play for a Left Tackle who most people have never heard of. Chris Clemons will have his hands full trying to get to the QB.

Advantage: Bengals. It all depends on the game plan. If the Bengals try to run, we will dominate. I have a feeling the Bengals will air it out. LT Whitworth and DE Clemons will cancel each other out, and pressure will be hard to come by leaving a ton of pressure on our corners

When the Seahawks have the ball.

It remains to be seen who the starting QB will be for Sunday. After the debacle in Cleveland, I would rather have Tarvaris Jackson throwing with his left hand over another Charlie Whitehurst performance like that. Stats do lie, and his stat line didn’t account for countless receivers who ran free but were not targeted. One thing that does help is the probable return of Max Unger. Anyone who is familiar with the zone running scheme will tell you just how important the center is to success. Having him out last week was huge. It also partially explains why the Seahawks were so pass happy in a game they didn’t need to be.

DE Carlos Dunlap will be a huge issue for RT James Carpenter. So far this year he has 6 sacks, and 16 QB pressures. The Seahawks will definitely need to utilize additional players to assist Carpenter in protection. Leaving him on an island, like they have in weeks past, could mean P Jon Ryan may get way too many snaps.

The Seahawks passing game will also be facing some very good corners in Leon Hall and Nate Clements but our size advantage (Mike Williams, Sidney RIce) should not be overlooked. I just hope they are targeted.

The Seahawks will need to run the ball a lot more than they have lately. There are a few bloggers who advocate the opposite, and have the stats to justify the opinion. All that said, with our current situation at QB, the path to success in this game starts with pass-run balance, tempo on offense, and limited negative plays.

For the season, 6 coaching staffs have studied this Bengals defense and have decided to run in the lanes highlighted below. Watching the Bengals on tape, made this strategy seem a little odd, but coaches are targeting DT Domata Peko, and DT Geno Atkins 43% of the time. It remains to be seen if we can add the Seahawks coaching staff to this list.

Advantage: Bengals. The Bengals currently have the 2nd best defense in yards per game, and are ranked 4th in points. That doesn’t bode well for our very inconsistent offense. Tarvaris Jackson may give us a spark if he plays, but I seriously doubt he does.

If there is a game that the 12th Man is needed it’s this one. The Seahawk crowd could swing what should be a Bengal victory into a Seahawks win very easily. The youth movement on the Bengals offense could have an extremely hard time with the silent counts, and audibles in the confines of Century Link.

Paging the 12th Man..

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About Will

Football fanatic, former coach, and obsessive blogger. Proud member of the Seahawks 12thManNation. Follow him on twitter @12thManScribe

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