Cincinnati Bengals (3-4-1) vs New York Giants (5-3)
8:30pm ET on ESPN
The Bengals two weeks ago finished tied with the Redskins at 27-27 after blowing a 20-10 3rd quarter lead, and frankly they should be grateful that they fared that well, as they allowed Washington to run up season highs in yards (546), passing yards (446), and first downs (35). It’s a miracle they didn’t get crushed. Fortunately for their defense, the Bengals are coming off a bye week, so they’ve had time to recover from chasing guys all over the field.
Last year the Bengals went 12-5, before falling in the first round of the playoffs, with QB Andy Dalton enjoying a career year. This year Dalton is completing more of his passes, and passing for 40+ yards per game extra, yet his TD passes have cratered from 25 in 13 games last year to 9 in 8 games this year, which accounts for the 5.3 points per game drop the Bengals have suffered. Tyler Eifert and AJ Green last year combined for 23 TD catches, but Eifert was out until Week 7 this year, though Green leads the league in receptions (59), and is second in yardage (896). In his second game back, Eifert caught 9 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown, so maybe the offense can start clicking again. But that won’t help their D, which is giving up an extra TD a game this year. Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins have both see their sack totals fall, they lost free safety Reggie Nelson to free agency, Vontaze Burfict spent the first 3 games on suspension… It’s been a trying time, and coordinator Paul Guenther has threatened changes to guys’ playing time if they don’t step up. Burfict, by the way, is expected to play, though he’s been dealing with a bum knee.
The Giants appeared to be done for after a Week 5 loss to Green Bay that dropped them to 2-3, but they’ve run the table since then, including a huge upset of the NFC East leading Philadelphia Eagles, 28-23. Eli Manning had a nice day, completing 22 of 36 for 257 yards and a season high 4 TDs, despite Odell Beckham Jr being held to under 60 yards for the fourth time in five games. But the lack of a running game remains a serious problem, caused by injuries to Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen. Jennings last year gained 863 yards on 195 carries, but missed Week 3, 4, 5 and 8, and has yet to find his rhythm, gaining just 168 yards on 64 carries, and Vereen is likely out for the year. Paul Perkins was their leading rusher last week, piling up a paltry 32 yards on 11 carries – ugh. Despite losing last season’s sack leader Robert Ayers to free agency, the Giants defense has improved, holding foes to just 20.5 points a game. DE Olivier Vernon, who came over from Miami as a free agent, has helped fill the void left by Ayers, as have the rest of the talented free agents they signed this year: defensive tackle Damon Harrison, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, and linebackers Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard.
Both teams feature world-class talent at wide receiver in Cincy’s AJ Green and New York’s Odell Beckham Jr, but the Giants have more talent in their secondary to counter Green, than the Bengals can marshal against OBJ.
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