Good Thursday morning, everyone. We're almost back at the weekend for a third round of NFL games.
Of course, when we get there this Sunday, we will be watching the Cincinnati Bengals host the Green Bay Packers in a showdown that will pit a pair of strong defenses against one another. It also will be a game that pits one student against his teacher.
What do we mean by that last statement? Why don't you take a look at our Morning stripes and find out:
This offseason, in his ever-evolving quest to improve, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton grabbed as much film as he could of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees. He was watching their demeanor, looking at checkdowns, diagramming progressions, watching route combinations, looking at the ways they used receivers, and mimicking the manner in which both got out of the pocket to extend plays. (Although, as you'll see later this week, Dalton may not need to focus too much on escaping the pocket. As far as sitting in the pocket, there's something there that he's already doing pretty well.) It was a crash course in how to be a Super Bowl quarterback, and how to evolve into becoming an elite passer. FoxSports Ohio's Kevin Goheen wrote about Dalton's study habits.
Among the many tools the Bengals will need to stop Rodgers this weekend are their cornerbacks. By the end of Monday night's 20-10 win over Pittsburgh, they had lost three of them to injury. Neither of them participated in practices Wednesday afternoon, although coach Marvin Lewis is optimistic that a combination of them may end up playing Sunday. In the event Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, in particular, can't go, the Bengals are going to lean heavily on fellow corners Leon Hall and Terence Newman and an unrelenting pass rush, the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy writes. Perhaps more than any game so far this season, the Bengals will need their defensive line to get stops in the backfield.
One of the biggest challenges facing Cincinnati's defensive backfield is Packers receiver Randall Cobb, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson writes. The quick, versatile, electric, and quick (oh, did we say "quick" already?) Cobb was a multi-position standout at Kentucky before being drafted by Green Bay. For the Wildcats, he was a receiver, a special-teams returner and a quarterback. As soon as he got to the league, the Packers were convinced they could use him in the return games and as a slot receiver. They were absolutely right. So far, he's proven to be unstoppable in both roles. If the Bengals can slow him Sunday, they have a chance to win the game.
Against the Packers' offense, the Bengals are going to need to take a true "pack" approach to completing tackles and preventing first down's, Bengals.com's Hobson also writes. As impressive as Cincinnati's ability to hold Pittsburgh to a 44-yard rushing total Monday night was, it was a direct product of the Bengals getting multiple players around ball carriers.