Matchup Problem: Marcedes Lewis, TE
Since the Bengals always seem to struggle with covering tight ends, Marcedes Lewis is a player to watch in this game. Lewis is off to a slow start this year, with only seven catches and 81 yards, but he does have a lot of ability. Last year, the 6-6, 275-pound Lewis had 10 touchdowns. You would also think he’ll get more targets with a rookie taking over at quarterback. He’ll pose a legitimate challenge for the Bengals safeties and linebackers.
Player to Watch: Andy Dalton.
Dalton has been inconsistent this season, which is to be expected of a first-year quarterback in an abbreviated offseason. However, at some point you would like to see him string together a few positive performances. Jacksonville’s defense is underrated and the road game could be a challenge after playing two straight at home. Hopefully, Dalton can build on that strong second half against the Bills and maintain his momentum against the Jaguars.
How the Bengals can win: Blaine Gabbert is only making his second start, so the Bengals defense needs to keep him from getting comfortable. The defense also has to shut down Maurice Jones-Drew and the Jaguars running game, to put more pressure on Gabbert. On offense, I’d like to see the Bengals continue to take shots downfield with A.J. Green. It softens up the defense (whether the passes are completed or not), and sets up the Bengals running game. Cincinnati should stick with their rotations at running back, giving Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard a few opportunities while Cedric Benson carries the load. It will also be interesting to see how Bobbie Williams performs in his first game back from his suspension. The pessimist in me thinks the Bengals could lose this game as they struggle to find consistency this year, but overall it is a pretty even matchup for the boys in stripes.
Check back later in the week for my prediction.