Shawn (1-1, 1-1 ATS): The beat-up Green Bay Packers get a break this week with a home game against the hapless Cincinnati Bengals. It’s true that we don’t truly know how bad the Bengals are on offense or how good they are on defense, considering they played their first two games against the Houston Texans and Baltimore Ravens, both of whom are expected to be good on defense and mediocre on offense. Still, all things considered, the Packers should be able to rest some guys while still winning the game.
That doesn’t mean the Packers will cover the point spread, which is as high as nine points some places and over a touchdown everywhere. The Bengals have given the Packers some issues in the recent past and remain, besides the Packers, one team that Aaron Rodgers has never beaten. The Bengals come into this week with the No. 1 ranked passing defense in the NFL, but they’ll find out on Sunday whether that is simply the result of playing the Texans and Ravens so far.
As banged up as the Packers are, if Bryan Bulaga plays on Sunday, the offense will only be missing David Bakhtiari and Randall Cobb. Missing Bakhtiari could be a factor, certainly, but Kyle Murphy has played well as a fill-in. As long as Bulaga plays, the Packers should be able to give Murphy some help if he needs it. As far as Cobb goes, he has played well so far this season, but with Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson still out there, plenty of other guys should get an opportunity to take Cobb’s touches. Those guys could be the two tight ends the Packers signed during the offseason and still haven’t used a whole lot. Cobb’s absence could also put Jordy in the slot, where he has played well.
In other words, I see the injuries affecting the defense more than the offense. The Packers’ offense and Aaron Rodgers should still have the tools they need on Sunday to put some points on the board. If the game was on the road, I’d give the Bengals’ fifth-ranked defense a better chance of holding the Packers’ offense down. After all, the Packers’ offense hasn’t exactly exploded so far this year. However, the game is at Lambeau, and I believe this offense is due to a find a gear more similar to the second halves of both the previous weeks.
The Packers may look to get Ty Montgomery on track as a rusher. The Bengals come in as the 31st-ranked team against the run, giving up 4.2 yards per carry. Montgomery would like to get some of that.
Defensively, the Packers will be short-handed without Mike Daniels and Nick Perry, no question. I do expect the Bengals to finally get into the end zone, probably more than once. Again, with the game being at Lambeau, I give the Bengals less of a chance of controlling this game with the run. Passing-wise, I just don’t think the Bengals have the passing game to overly scare the Packers. We should quickly learn if Kevin King starting over Davon House is a downgrade or an improvement for the secondary.
I don’t expect a repeat of week 1 for the secondary, but I also don’t think Andy Dalton will have near the success that Matt Ryan had. I think the Bengals can play enough offense and defense to keep the game close, but I believe the Packers win this week unless they hand it to the Bengals.
Packers 24, Bengals 17
Monty (1-1, 1-1 ATS): A couple things strike me about the Green Bay Packers taking on the Cincinnati Bengals this week.
The first is that the Bengals haven’t scored a damn touchdown yet this season. The Red Rifle, as some like to call him, has become a Ginger BB Gun. Nine points is what the Bengals have put up this season.
The second thing that strikes me is the history of the Packers and Bengals. For whatever strange reason, some interesting moments in Packers’ history have happened against the Bengals.
That doesn’t matter in Sunday’s matchup, of course.
Injuries are really the theme, this week. David Bakhtiari, Mike Daniels and Nick Perry — I expect all three to miss the game — and those are big losses. However, as Shawn said, if Bryan Bulaga plays, the Packers’ offense should be able to run full throttle. Kyle Murphy has been solid in the first two games. The Packers gave him help early against the Falcons, then realized he could handle left tackle by himself and took the help away in the second quarter.
So as long as Justin McCray isn’t a surprise start, I have no qualms about the offense. I expect Jordy Nelson in the slot and I expect him to dominate. Although I don’t know that they will do it, Davante Adams could also take some snaps in the slot. That big target over the middle on some third cornerback could pay big dividends.
And then, yes, there’s the two-tight end set that we’ve been teased about, but haven’t really seen yet.
The Packers’ defense, of course, is a concern.
Daniels and Perry are big losses. In Perry’s case, I think Ahmad Brooks — just back from concussion protocol — will fill in just fine. Daniels’ absence will be hard to account for. Dean Lowry, Quinton Dial and Kenny Clark in particular, will need to pick up the slack.
Lastly, we’re getting Kevin King by default, since Davon House is out. That’s not how we wanted it, but that’s how we got it. The bad news is that also means we likely get another week of Quinten Rollins, which isn’t any good for anyone other than the Bengals’ receivers.
In this instance of weakness (Bengals’ offense) on weakness (Packers’ secondary), I’ll just take frickin’ Aaron Rodgers. If the Texans can handle the Bengals, then so should a three-fourths version of the Packers.
Packers 27, Bengals 13