The Cincinnati Bengals are starting the second half of their season on Sunday and the toughest leg of their schedule. After losing their last three games to teams they should have beat, the Bengals are looking to turn their fate around. It will be no easy task with Peyton Manning’s Broncos in town, but the team can’t be counted out just yet. Here are my 5 keys to the matchup.
1. Andy Dalton’s turnover problems must vanish.
We all know he can do it. He had a stellar rookie season and was voted to the Pro Bowl. Now he is the turnover king of the NFL. Dalton must be patient and wait for plays open up before getting rid of the ball. It is nice to get the ball out quickly, but it is also okay to hold on to it and weigh your options as your receivers are opening up. Throw it away if they are closing in, not into traffic.
2. The running game needs to be effective in getting yards.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is in a different role with the Bengals than he has been in his entire professional career. The Patriots were a pass heavy team, not utilizing the back as much on downs. The Bengals are a more balanced team and they need the Law Firm to handle the burden of more carries. So far this season, he has not had a 100 yard rushing game and shows no explosiveness. His play has been inconsistent at best. The offensive line should take some blame, but the majority of it falls on BJGE’s shoulders. If the Bengals are going to win on Sunday, he is going to have to run more effectively.
3. The secondary has to give Manning a run for his money.
The Bengals backfield has had trouble stopping quarterbacks all year long. From rookies to veterans, everyone has been able to make plays on them. Peyton Manning is no ordinary quarterback. He will shred them to pieces if they let him. The Bengals backfield, must take away Mannings options. Their coverage must be pristine and elusive or this game will be over quick.
4. The defense must get pressure on Manning.
Peyton is known for taking advantage of the blitz. He will be hard to contain, but the Bengals have been strong up front. If the team keeps pressure on the Bronco quarterback, they will force him to make mistakes and make him think twice when dropping back in the pocket.
5. Gruden will need to open up the offense.
Earlier in the season fans got to watch as Jay Gruden called gadget plays and quick passes. The team was staying alive in games and winning because of them. Then out of nowhere the play calling became conservative again and the Bengals started losing. Gruden will need to keep the Broncos defense on their toes and off balance. With more innovative play calling, the Bengals will be calling their moms after a win for once.
These are all adjustments that the Bengals team is capable of making. With the right combination of these elements, the team can and will get a much needed win at home. The underdog shouldn’t be counted out in this one.
Tags: Andy Dalton Bengals BenJarvus Green-Ellis Broncos Cincinnati Cincinnati Bengals Denver Denver Broncos Dre Kirkpatrick Jay Gruden Leon Hall Manning NFL Paul Brown Stadium Peyton Manning Rey Maualuga The Law Firm Willis McGahee