It’s week 13 in the NFL, and that can mean only one thing. That there are five more games left until the end of the regular season... wink. This matchup is an interesting one featuring two 5-6 teams that appear to be moving in different directions.
The Denver Broncos, with two wins in a row, coming off of a good team win against the Steelers, against a severely depleted Cincinnati Bengals roster that has now lost their last three games. I chatted it up with Cincy Jungle’s Patrick Judis about Sunday’s game in the Jungle. Away we go...
1. Injury after injury, the Bengals have had a tough for at staying healthy this season, with the most recent serious blow coming in the form of quarterback Andy Dalton. My first question is, where do you go from here?
Before I dive into the injuries impact on the Bengals’ season I just want it to be clear to outside perspectives that this team really can’t blame injuries for their downfall. Despite all the various injuries, they have had enough talent the past few weeks to be able to win. The main issues have been poor coaching and a lack of aggressiveness in the offseason to have a properly deep NFL roster.
Dalton’s injury hurts. Many Bengals’ fans have known since the offseason that Dalton’s health would play a huge factor into this season’s success. Jeff Driskel has still shown flashes of being a nice backup option though, and his mobility adds a slight read option factor that Dalton didn’t really have as much of. The good news for Driskel is it does look like he will have A.J. Green back in the lineup, which makes any quarterback’s job easier.
2. Something our two respective pages have had passionate opinions about, the coaching staff. What does this season and these injuries do for the future of head coach Marvin Lewis?
After the Mike Brown decided to re-sign Marvin Lewis to a two-year contract last season I’ve learned not to hold my breathe on him getting fired. He has absolutely deserved to lose his job each of the past three seasons. The Bengals roster is probably more talented than most people know because of how held back it is by atrocious coaching. The defense was so bad they fired the defensive coordinator they just hired this offseason. Meanwhile, while most teams are enjoying the most successful offensive years in the history of the NFL, the Bengals are struggling to even convert third downs.
All across the board from play calling, philosophy and even who is actually playing has been just bad. The only way this team stood a chance was if everyone stayed healthy, which isn’t something you should have to bank on in the NFL.
Having said all that I’m still not confident that the Bengals will be looking for a new head coach in the offseason.
3. Right now, quarterback Jeff Driskel is averaging less than three seconds to throw the ball. Do you expect anything from Denver’s defense to make him hold on to it a little longer?
I think if anything he will have less time. The offensive line has been awful the past few weeks, and it looks like the Bengals just brought back Andre Smith at offensive tackle to start over Cedric Ogbuehi (I could go on a full rant about how that shows just how poorly this roster was constructed). If Driskel does get more time to throw the ball it will mean that the offensive coordinator Bill Lazor will be running some plays to get Driskel out of the pocket, or that Driskel himself will be escaping pressure.
It wouldn’t be shocking to me if the Bengals had to go to their next quarterback on the roster at some point against that Broncos’ pass rush. I’m a little scared for Driskel’s well-being out there.
4. A.J. Green is expected back this week, and has been quite effective in the slot. Last week against the Steelers, Chris Harris Jr. played a lot of slot responsibilities. Do you expect the Bengals to line Green up a in the slot, or do you expect them to utilize him wherever he can produce?
The Bengals love to move Green around, which is probably the best thing Lazor has done with this offense. You will see plenty of Green and Tyler Boyd in the slot on Sunday, but when Green is in the slot he is probably pretty high in the progression as he is such a huge mismatch there with his skill set. His ability to make catches over the middle as well as go deep means he has a pretty good chance of getting open. Plus it is a lot harder to double team him while he is lined up there.
5. What do you expect out of Sunday’s game?
Nothing good for the Bengals. At best Driskel plays well and gives the Bengals a chance in a close game, but the far more likely outcome is Cincinnati fails to slow down running back Phillip Lindsay and the rest of the Broncos’ offense on their way to a pretty easy victory. I don’t expect it to get to the point of the Bengals’ losses against the Saints and Chiefs, but it still won’t be that competitive.
Bengals 17, Broncos 31
Thanks again and good luck to you as well!