For the second week running, the Cincinnati Bengals will face off against a team that had been beaten the previous week by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After knocking off the New York Giants last week, comprehensively I might add, the Bengals this week must travel to Missouri to face the Kansas City Chiefs. Victory over the Chiefs would keep the Bengals’ faint playoff hopes alive.
Even though the Chiefs are 1-8, and coming off a short week, they have a tough home atmosphere and are coming off a decent performance against the Steelers last week. In order to win this game, the Bengals will need to look to certain matchups:
Jermaine Gresham v. Eric Berry:
Despite his reputation as one of the best safeties in the league, Berry has struggled this season. Whether that is a result of his recovery from last season’s torn ACL or a problem rooting from elsewhere, he has struggled in coverage for the most part this season. Unlike last week, AJ Green doesn’t have a friendly matchup. Starting cornerback Brandon Flowers is one of the more aggressive man cornerbacks in the NFL, and he has been one of the Chiefs’ best performers all year long.
Green should still be able to have an impact, but the Bengals will need to get more out of his supporting cast this week. Andrew Hawkins may miss the game through injury, which would put more pressure on Mohamed Sanu to follow up his impressive performance from last week. Sanu will likely see a lot of Javier Arenas, the Chiefs’ second best cornerback since the release of Stanford Routt. Arenas may be a starter now, but he is adept at moving inside and playing the slot receiver.
It’s no guarantee that Sanu will replicate his performances from last week and even if he does, Arenas could still curtail his impact. That should send the Bengals towards Gresham’s matchup with Berry. Heath Miller was able to consistently come free against the Chiefs, before Ben Roethlisberger was injured, last week. Miller is a very different type of tight end to Gresham, but the Bengals’ starter should be able to take advantage of the space all the same. Potentially with greater impact. Despite scoring a touchdown last week, Gresham had only 15 yards on three receptions last week.
Bengals’ Interior OL v. Chiefs’ Defensive Line:
An overlooked aspect of last week’s victory over the Giants was the play of the offensive line. The Giants didn’t once sack Andy Dalton, which allowed him to complete 70 percent of his passes and throw four touchdowns. It wasn’t a surprise that the offensive line was able to repel the Giants’ defensive line last week, as the Giants had been underperforming in that area all season, but this week will be a much greater test on the edges against Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
While Hali and Houston must be contained, the Bengals actually have the advantage on the interior of the line. Defensive end Glenn Dorsey has been ruled out for the season, while first-round draft pick Dontari Poe hasn’t lived up to expectations early on, unless of course you were one of his many doubters at this level. Poe was supposed to proved the pass rushing threat inside of Tyson Jackson and Dorsey, who were stars against the run last season. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, none of that is working in their favour right now, and the Bengals should be able to dominate the interior of the offensive line.
Undrafted rookie Trevor Robinson excelled on his first full start, while Kevin Zeitler has played to his potential as a rookie so far. Clint Boling may not be a star, or even an original starter on this team, but he has done enough this year to be productive and should have an easy outing in this game. The Bengals should be able to run the ball, while also giving Dalton a clean pocket to step up into.
Save for a Brandon Tate fumble, the Bengals didn’t turn the football over last week, while forcing the Giants to turn the ball over four times. Matt Cassel will start again for the Chiefs this week, a week after throwing an interception to Lawrence Timmons last week to decide the result of that game in overtime. Cassel was babied through that game as part of a very cautious gameplan. In this game, he will face a secondary in good form with plenty of potential to catch any errant passes.
If the Bengals can stop the run, then they should be able to force a few turnovers from Cassel and win the turnover battle.