The Cincinnati Bengals don’t have an easy task in front of them with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers visiting Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
There’s a reason the Bengals are back to being major underdogs after a win over Jacksonville — Rodgers and the Packers sport a matching 3-1 record and haven’t lost since Week 1.
Granted, things might not be so simple as the face-value look. The Packers did lose that Week 1 game in stunning 38-3 fashion to New Orleans. All three wins have come against teams with a .500 record (San Francisco) at best, including a win over 0-4 Detroit. And the Packers have some major injuries going into Sunday, including missing a star cornerback and at least one starting offensive lineman.
The Bengals, by comparison, are quite a bit healthier. In fact, with Jessie Bates and Tee Higgins ready to go, they’re one of the healthiest (luckiest) teams in the league so far. But the track record so far isn’t that much better than Green Bay’s — they’ve bested two teams with a single win, a winless team and lost to 2-2 Chicago.
Still, Bengals fans know all too well how good the defense looks, especially at creating pressure. The unit has tallied not just 11 sacks, but 40 pressures already. That could come up big against a Green Bay offensive line missing at least its starting center.
Bengals fans also know how great the offense looks when the coaching staff removes the restraints. Last week, it fell into a 14-0 hole with a conservative approach, then looked like one of the best units in the league when it let Joe Burrow cook — he’s the league’s deadliest passer on first down right now.
That’s a big if when it comes to play-calling though and the Bengals could quickly fall behind if it isn’t where it needs to be. Hobbled offensive line or not, Rodgers isn’t going to have many problems moving the ball, not with a star running back like Aaron Jones and wideout Davante Adams.
Those Packers have one turnover since Week 1 and rank in the top 10 in terms of third-down conversions. Rodgers now has four weeks of film to see what Lou Anarumo and this Bengals defense wants to do.
Even then, the Bengals have a huge advantage in the health department and are at home — after an extended break thanks to a Thursday game. This prediction heavily leans into the idea the offensive play-callers have seen what works and will apply it to an entire game this time out, but Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase should be able to exploit a defense missing its best cornerback.
Prediction: Bengals 35, Packers 34
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