Cincinnati comes into its Week 3 matchup 2-0, while Green Bay has yet to get in the preseason win column, sitting at 0-2 so far.
Both teams look poised for the playoffs again in 2012, and will certainly compete for their respective division crowns this fall.
With that said, here is everything you need to know for Thursday night's exhibition matchup.
When: Thursday, August 23 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
Watch: NBC 26 (Green Bay), Local 12 (Cincinnati, tape delay)
Listen: WTMJ 620 AM (Green Bay), WLW 700 AM (Cincinnati)
Live Streaming: NFL Audio Pass
Betting Line: Packers (-3), according to Bovada.net.
What's At Stake?
Although the Packers would love to earn their first preseason win of 2012, Green Bay would probably prefer to escape Cincinnati with zero injuries. Of course, the Bengals would love to do the same and they will have much more incentive to win playing at home in front of their fans.
With only two more weeks of preseason left, undrafted free agents and players on the outside looking in on a roster spot will have to step up now, or risk being the first ones cut.
Key Packers Injuries
*According to CBSSports
TE Jermichael Finley (Quad), questionable for Thursday
WR Greg Jennings (Concussion), questionable for Thursday
RB John Kuhn (Ankle), questionable for Thursday
RB James Starks (Toe), questionable for Thursday
LB Desmond Bishop (Hamstring), doubtful for start of regular season
DB Davon House (Shoulder), questionable for start of regular season
DL Anthony Hargrove, (Suspension), eligible to return Week 9
DL Johnny Jolly, (Suspension), indefinitely
Key Bengals Injuries
*According to CBSSports
DL Carlos Dunlap (Knee), out for preseason
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Foot), questionable for Thursday
DB Leon Hall (Achilles), probable for start of regular season
LB Ray Maualuga (Knee), questionable for Thursday
DB Shaun Prater (Knee), out for season
DB Dre Kirkpatrick (Leg), questionable for start of regular season
TE Jermaine Gresham (Knee), questionable for Thursday
Fantasy Prospect to Watch
Second-year Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb will likely get more looks from quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2012, as Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson garner more attention from opposing defenses. Donald Driver is getting older, so that leaves Cobb as the under-the-radar weapon on Green Bay's aerial assault.
Cobb caught 25 balls for 375 yards and a touchdown last season playing in 15 games. Cobb is a speedy wideout and a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
What They're Saying
Green Bay Packers' wide receiver Jordy Nelson is impressing his coaches during training camp this summer, and looks poised for a Pro Bowl season in 2012. Here are Packers' offensive coordinator Tom Clements' words to The Green Bay Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky:
“He has everything you’re looking for,” offensive coordinator Tom Clements said. “He’s smart, he’s detailed, he runs good routes, he makes catches, he makes tough catches and he has outstanding speed. People don’t give him credit for the speed he has, but I’ve never seen him caught from behind. He’s having a great camp.”
Packers' running back Cedric Benson will return to Cincinnati on Thursday as the hated opposition. Benson played four seasons with the Bengals from 2008 to 2011, and rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the past three seasons.
Here is what Benson had to say about his return to Packers reporters per Cincinnati.com's Joe Reedy:
“It’s going to be fun, to say the least. It’ll be good just to go against that defense. I’ve seen all those guys coming in, I’ve seen them work together, so it’ll be fun to put a licking on them.”
Packers Player to Watch
There's no way fans tuning in on Thursday night won't be looking to see how the reigning NFL MVP performs on the road. Rodgers was 6-for-11 for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Cleveland Browns at home last week. He also rushed for 24 yards in the blowout loss.
Rodgers is coming off the best year of his career in 2011, and one that will be nearly impossible to replicate. The veteran signal-caller completed more than 68 percent of his passes, throwing for 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns and only six interceptions.
Bengals Player to Watch
Cincinnati wideout AJ Green proved to be one of the league's more explosive talents during his rookie season in 2011, catching 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns. Last week against the Atlanta Falcons, Green caught two balls for 59 yards and a touchdown, picking up right where he left off last winter.
At 6'4", the future looks bright for Green in the Bengals offense. He can rise above the defense or beat them with his speed. He'll have a great test against the Packers defense on Thursday, so fans should watch him to see how he responds.
The key matchup in Thursday night's game will be the Packers' vaunted passing attack vs. the Bengals' Top 10 defense. Green Bay's pass offense ranked third in the NFL last season, posting more than 307 yards through the air per week. Meanwhile, Cincinnati's pass defense ranked ninth in the league, allowing less than 212 passing yards to its opponents on average.
If the Bengals can hold the Packers to under 250 passing yards on Thursday, I expect them to win easily. Otherwise, Green Bay could be on its way to breaking through for the first time this August.
Cincinnati has shown a lot more promise this preseason than Green Bay, and I believe that will continue on Thursday. The Packers are a team focused solely on the regular season and winning a title at this stage, and the Bengals will capitalize on that in Week 3.
Bengals 28, Packers 17
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