If the Cincinnati Bengals are looking for a good week to win a football game that could cement their status as legit playoff contenders, then this Sunday afternoon could be the best opportunity they will get, early in the season, to make some real noise.
That is because the Patriots are scheduled to visit on Sunday, and with the craziness that is the offensive unit as of late, there isn’t a lot of reason to believe that the Pats are the same heavily-favoured club that they usually are.
Pats quarterback Tom Brady is probably still at odds with a brand new receiving corps. Most of his pass catchers this year probably weren’t even alive when he started playing organized football. Most of them still need name tags.
Plus the belief that what nearly happened back in Week I when they were outgunned by the also-surging Buffalo Bills, by two points.
On top of that, there is also the ongoing uncertainty regarding one of the top tight ends in the nation, Rob Gronkowski.
According to various reports on ESPN, Gronkowski has insisted that there is no pressure from the Pats, who are 4-0, to return to game action as soon as possible.
Brady, who is also missing rookie receiver Danny Amendola probably wants nothing more than to reunite with Rob (Gronk) as soon as possible.
Since no one from the Pats organization seems to be up front about when Gronk may be back, there is no reason to assume that he will return in time to play the Bengals on Sunday afternoon.
If you are a Cincy fan, that has got to be good news.
“When I’m ready, I’m ready,” offers Gronk. Adding that “if it’s this Sunday, next Sunday, the Sunday after that (Week 7), it’s just going day-by-day, so I really couldn’t tell you when it’s going to be.”
The hesitation to return before he is fully healthy likely comes from some believing that he returned too soon from a broken forearm suffered last season during Week 11. Gronk returned for the regular-season finale, playing sparingly, then re-broke the forearm during the Pats’ first playoff game.
The Bengals however, are coming off one of their worst games in the past couple of years, as nobody could get anything going for the team offensively, and thus they suffered a 17-6 loss to Cleveland, in Cleveland.
A win would have had the Bengals at 3-1, instead they are sitting at 2-2. That being said, they have a more loaded offense this time around. QB Andy Dalton is getting better.
They have wins at Pittsburgh and vs Green Bay to their credit; a win vs the Pats would be as good as a win vs the Broncos.
Asides from it being one of his worst games statistically, if there was one bright spot in Andy Dalton’s game, it is that he passed well on 3rd down plays, the one down that nobody anywhere likes watching because of the pressure and the difficulty of having one last shot.
On Sunday in Cleveland, Dalton did well on 3rd downs, completing 66.7 % of his 12 passing attempts. That means that roughly 7-8 of his passes on 3rd down resulted in a catch by his receivers.
Dalton also averaged 8.5 yards per 3rd down passing attempt. Nine times out of 10, that is going to get you the 1st down. That is just his second highest mark this season, which means that he has done that well before.
Dalton has a few targets that are usually dependable when it comes to going airborne with the football. Receiver A.J. Green out of Georgia is one, another receiver Brandon Tate out of North Carolina is another, as well as rookie tight end out of the University of Notre Dame, Tyler Eifert is another who was known around school for making amazing catches at critical points in the game.
WIDE RECEIVERS LOOKOUT FOR TALIB
The only other key position on the field this Sunday for Cincy is going to be the Wide Receiver position. And there are seven guys on this team who are going to have to be on their toes all game long in order to be successful. And by successful, I mean they not only have to catch the Dalton passes, but they are also going to have to worry about Pats 6-year
Cornerback Aqib Talib was on fire last Sunday night in Atlanta and was the main reason the Falcons did not win the football game.
Talib got in receivers’ faces all night long.
Cincy’s starting WRs are: A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Dane Sanzenbacher and Brandon Tate.
Good luck, boys!
The Patriots game is going to be one of those test for Dalton this season, and it’s good that it comes early enough in the season that if he were to have a strong game and win, it could work wonders for everybody (in Cincinnati) for the rest of the season.
It will also answer a lot of the many questions Dalton’s critics have of him by now (this is the start of his 3rd year in the league) and if he is going to set off any kind of fireworks in town, this would be the week to do it!
Besides, what in the world could possibly serve as motivation more than a loss to Cleveland??!
“I still feel like we have a great offensive group in my room,” co-ordinator Jay Gruden said on Monday. “They’re talented. Our offensive line is solid. Our receiving corps is excellent.
We have great tight ends. We have backs to choose from, and our quarterback is a solid quarterback in the NFL.
We’re gonna find out just how talented this coming Sunday!
FUN FACT: Since Tom Brady has been in the NFL, the Cincinnati Bengals have gone 1-4 against New England. Cincy won 23-17 at home on Sept. 9, 2001 but Brady was still on the bench, backing up then-starter Drew Bledsoe. Following NE, the Bengals also face the Bills, Lions and NY Jets, Miami, Ravens and the Browns again, before their bye week.