I don't know about you guys, but I'm done with those MNF discussions, because they always end with an Orton vs Tebow rant. I was dizzy after that loss. I hate to lose... even more for the Raiders, at home, on a MNF, having my offensive line hammered, etc etc... Ok, now we must let it go and think about our next game.
After some folks' suggestion, I'll try to load myself on the job of making this new series "Key match-ups" to post every week. So here we go with the week 2 one, to think about what are the offense and defense key match-ups for the Broncos to win this game. We started 0-1 and I guess this is a good oportunity to recover and have a 1-1 record after Sunday. Follow me after the jump and let's think on it together.
Last year, the Bengals were the 27th best defense against passes, what means the 6th worst one. So how can we take some benefit on it? Passing. To do it effectivelly, it's better if we can establish a running game to take off the pressure over Kyle Orton shoulders. This is not an easy job, as they also were the 9th best defense against rushing.
Rey Maualuga, their MLB, is in his 3rd season and he looks to be a stud tackler mike. Of those players who remain in Cincinnati, he is the one who led team tackles with 44-31 and 1.0 sack last season. He will help a lot the job of their interior defensive lineman. Geno Atkins, the DT, is in his second year and in 2010 he made 10-6 tackles and 3.0 sacks. Domata Peko, the NT, is an experienced guy who is playing his 6th season for the Bengals. In his best year (2008), he made 29-38 tackles and 0.5 sacks playing all the 16 games. He is their key to stop the middle running plays.
Knowing how good their defense can be to stop our new rushing offense, we must explore their linebackers to pass. Their both OLBs are not very good dropping into cover. Manny Lawson, the sam, had his best season defending 6 passes in the last year (playing for the niners), and he had just 1 interception. Thomas Howard, the will, is an old known guy here in Denver, because he played 5 seasons for the Raiders. However, he seems to have had a big fall on his production against the passes, after a great season defending 11 in 2007.
My conclusion: It's clear that the Bengals' strenghness is stopping the runs. Our major chance to win is exploring it with our fast and good handed tight ends. They can move with great speed and make some plays. They are both athletic players who can cause a lot of trouble to their linebackers. I put us in a big advantage here.
The running back Cedric Benson is in his 4th season with the Bengals. He had 321 rushing attempts for 1111 total yds gained in 2010, resulting in 3.5 ypc. As the head coach Marvin Lewis is not a dumb, he watched our game against Oakland and saw how bad we were against the run. So it's obvious he will try to do the same and explore our weakness. He knows this is what gives them their best chance to win, thus we must expect them to run a lot. By the way, I think almost everybody of our entire schedule will try to do it against us.
Ok, now why did I put Joe Mays loaded onto the job of stopping Benson? It's never too much to explain that this is a job that involves all the defense. It's a mentality where every single player must know they need to be agreesive and attack the offense, instead of just expecting what moves they will do, to then react. So why Joe Mays? Because althought the fact that he and Brian Dawkins are the more agressive players of our defense, I think he played very poorly last game. He missed a lot of gaps and tackles, and looked more lost than the other players imo. So that's why I expect HIM to recover from a bad performance and play well at this job on sunday. He is also a big hitter and can put some fear on Benson's eyes.
My conclusion: We don't know if Andy Dalton will be healthy to play, but he probably will. He is a rookie and if we force him to pass, he is like to make some mistakes and we gain more advantage from our nice defense against the passes. Doom / Hunter and Von Miller are supposed to make some plays and they won't be able to gain much territory passing. The biggest profit here are the turnovers (interceptions) that a rookie is expected to throw when pressured. So if we can stop the runs, they will have to throw... and then we can defend ourselves properly. I put us in a little disadvantage here.
With all this pointed, I think we have a big chance to win this game and have some peace in Denver. And you folks, what do you think are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to beat the Bengals?