Green Bay Packers v. Bengals: Final Thoughts on Matchup

Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) reacts after making a playlist during rather fourth quarter of their game Monday, September 20, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 35-17.Packers21 25
Green Bay Packers linebacker Rashan Gary (52) reacts after making a playlist during rather fourth quarter of their game Monday, September 20, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers beat the Detroit Lions 35-17.Packers21 25 /

Kickoff between the Green Bay Packers and the Cincinnati Bengals is drawing closer, but before the two teams take the field, I have my final thoughts on the upcoming matchup.

– I’ve mentioned it on a few occasions this week, but a tall task for this secondary that is without Jaire Alexander will be limiting the big passing plays from this Cincinnati offense. Joe Burrow doesn’t throw downfield a ton, but when he does, he’s often connected with Ja’Marr Chase.

– As a result, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Green Bay Packers utilize more cover-2 as a way to take those big plays away and to provide Eric Stokes and Kevin King more help over the top. Green Bay will want to force this Cincy offense to put together long scoring drives.

– This Joe Barry defense was designed to limit the big passing play. According to Sharp Football, the Green Bay Packers’ defense ranks fourth in explosive pass play rate.

– Bengals RB Joe Mixon is questionable for this game, and as you’d expect, he is a big part of their offense. His 83 rushing attempts this season is the second-most in football.

– One matchup that I haven’t seen discussed a whole lot but one that scares me is Tyler Boyd in the slot matched up with Chandon Sullivan. According to PFF ($$), Boyd is fifth in YAC this season.

– What new offensive line configuration will we see on Sunday, and can this unit continue to hold up despite all of the changes? They’ll again be up against a solid defensive front, including edge rusher Trey Hendrickson, who has 20 pressures and three sacks through four games per PFF.

– I see there being three options for the offensive line. Either Elgton Jenkins will be at left tackle with Lucas Patrick at center, or Jenkins will be the center with Yosh Nijman still at left tackle. If Jenkins is out, then Patrick will likely be the center, and everyone else will stay put.

– Against both the run and the pass, this Bengals defense has been good this season–ranking in the top-10 in several key categories.

– It’s also worth mentioning that while the Bengals are 3-1, their three wins are against teams who are a combined 2-10.

– The story remains the same for this Green Bay Packers offense–run the ball. Despite a lack of explosive run plays, they’ve done well sticking with the run game the last three games. When they do that, this offense is at its best.

– DJ Reader and BJ Hill in the middle of this Bengals defensive front will make running the ball difficult, however. Both are top-10 among all interior defensive linemen by PFF’s grading system.

– Who is going to step up next to Kenny Clark this week? Against San Francisco, it was Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster, while last week, we saw Kingsley Keke make a few plays. It doesn’t matter who it is, but someone has to.

– It’s always important to get after the quarterback, but if the Packer defensive front wants to help this secondary that is without their All-Pro, then they’ll need to pressure Burrow. The Green Bay Packers will need big days from Preston Smith and Rashan Gary.

– Green Bay is also very thin at edge rusher with Za’Darius Smith and Chauncey Rivers both on IR.

– This Bengals’ offensive line hasn’t been stellar, but I think they’ve been better than what many anticipated. The 3.8 yards per rush average ranks 21st, and while they’ve only allowed 27 pressures — thanks to the quick passing game — they still have surrendered 11 sacks.

– According to PFF ($$), Burrow holds the ball for an average of 2.43 seconds–this is the fourth-fastest average in the NFL this season. Those quick passes make it difficult for the pass rush to get home.

– I’m not sure that we will see much, if any of Rasul Douglas or Jaylon Smith, as they still try to get acclimated to their new defense. However, if we see one, I think it’s more likely that we see Douglas.

– Kevin King takes his share of flack, but it’s a good thing that he is back this week. This is a thin Packers’ cornerback room, and while he’s had his struggles, he brings experience and has had more NFL success than Isaac Yiadom.

– An interesting stat from Nate Tice, via Peter Bukowski–when in shotgun, the Bengals pass the ball about 80 percent of the time. When they are under center, it’s a similar rate but with the run—something to keep your eyes on.

– We saw much better ball distribution last week against Pittsburgh with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon splitting carries while several other pass catchers had more opportunities as well. Will that be the case this week?

For whatever reason, odd things seem to happen when the Green Bay Packers play the Bengals.

– In addition to getting King back, Krys Barnes will be available as well. As I said, I don’t expect to see much of Jaylon Smith, so Barnes’ return will provide the linebacker group with a big upgrade over Oren Burks and Ty Summers.

– Earlier this week, Maurice Drayton mentioned that the issues on the field goal unit have been resolved. As I’m sure you remember, there have been some close calls when it comes to blocked field goal attempts. Let’s see if it’s actually fixed.

– As always, keep your eyes on the Green Bay receivers when it comes to blocking. These are very important roles that Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and Randall Cobb fill that don’t show up on the stat sheet.

– In terms of special teams grades from PFF, the Bengals have the second-best unit through four weeks.